Nuno Espirito Santo will not see Wolves as the favourites as they prepare to face Armenian minnows FC Pyunik.
Wolves are 1-5 with bet365 to progress in Thursday night’s Europa League third qualifying round tie. Pyunik are the most decorated club in Armenia despite only being formed in 1992. They finished second in their league last season and have beaten Macedeonian outfit FC Shkupi and Czech Republic side Jablonec to reach this stage, but they are expected to be no match for Premier League opposition.
Head coach Nuno sees it differently though. “It’s going to be tough. They did well in the previous round (beating Jablonec 2-1 on aggregate),” he said. “We’ve analysed it and they’re always a tough team and they have good players. It will be a tough game. That shows in football there are no favourites.”
Wolves face a mammoth 6,370-mile round trip to and from Yerevan, arriving back on Friday morning, just two days before they play Leicester in their Premier League curtain-raiser on Sunday. Nuno admits he is concerned with the effect the travelling and the closeness of the game to Sunday will have on the players.
“It’s tough because it’s very far and there’s lots of hours of flight,” acknowledged the Portuguese. “But we have to do it and we have prepared well, and we’re going to play, then we’re going to think of Leicester. We’re going to try in the flight there and the return to make this time useful, trying to rush the recovery of the player with good food etc. It’s a challenge for us and we have to embrace it by doing our best.”
Nuno believes the trip to China for the Asia Trophy helped them acclimatise to the combination of longer flights, training and playing.
“Everything is ready. We just have to travel, rest and play. That’s what we did in Asia – we prepare ourselves well as a club for these new things that are going to happen, and happening now,” added Nuno.
Wolves are still hoping to add one more new face before the transfer window closes tomorrow at 5pm. Nuno wants Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina, but there remains a sticking point on the terms of a permanent deal after reports in France claimed a loan agreement had been reached. “The reality is the market still open, so let’s see – when it’s closed we’ll talk about it,” said Nuno. “We never do it publicly. All the work we do is inside.”