‘Carry on captain’ is the message to Wolves’ relentless skipper Conor Coady from Nuno Espirito Santo.
Coady has played every minute of the last 76 games in all competitions stretching back to January 2018. He made uncharacteristic errors which led to two of Tammy Abraham’s goals for Chelsea in the 5-2 defeat at the weekend – Wolves’ biggest defeat for three years.
Head coach Nuno will give Coady the chance to redeem himself as Wolves kick off the Europa League group stages for the first time at home to Braga on Thursday night.
“Coady is OK. Coady is going to play – he always plays,” said Nuno. “Last season he played in all the official minutes in all the competitions. That’s a lot of credit for the way he does things – fantastic. He takes care of himself and he prepares well. He trains always on his limits and he competes very well.”
Coady’s outstanding appearance record is almost unheard of in this day and age with regular squad rotation to keep players fresh. Nuno is happy to give the 26-year-old sweeper the chance to add to his tally but admits he cannot go on forever.
“We have other options but at this moment… Eventually there will be a moment but that’s not the case. He’s ready to go and he’ll go,” said the boss.
Against Chelsea, Coady appeared to be unusually isolated with Abraham catching him in one against one situations, something the skipper has rarely had to contend with playing in a back three.
Nuno admits the sweeper is being isolated. “In the case of Chelsea, they put Tammy Abraham constantly on him, they eventually changed their system also, so we have to find solutions,” said the boss. “What we have is a lot of hours working together to realise that we need to improve on that individually and as a team.”
So how has Coady dealt with his mistakes? “It’s a global analysis based on things and individual mistakes we make, but how and why they happen is what we work on, and trying to find a solution to not repeat them again,” said Nuno.
“The mistake is always the same, is it from an individual or from the team? So we have to analyse what happens and try to find a solution. This is what we do.”
Coady is used to playing between Ryan Bennett and Willy Boly but against Chelsea, Bennett was axed from the squad and Boly suspended as Jesus Vallejo made an unconvincing Premier League debut and Romain Saiss dropped into the back three. Both Bennett and Boly are available for the Braga game.
With the guaranteed 12 extra games in Europe, Nuno insists the entire squad has been put on red alert to be ready to play at any time. “When you embrace a challenge of being in four competitions, all the squad is important and I’m very glad to say I have all of the players available,” he said.
“What is in front of us is a big challenge because playing Thursday, Sunday, everyone is involved and has to prepare for the moment to perform well and help the team.”
Nuno again elaborated on his selection policy regarding Bennett’s omission, without specifiying why he was left out entirely. “Profile is not the profile of the player but which side of the pitch he plays,” he added. “We play a back three and we have options for the right side and the left side and these are built with complicities over many hours of games, many hours of training sessions playing together.
“Players on each side play together, so when you have to decide, you decide based on these complicities and all these aspects. For this game, we have the option on the right side of Vallejo and Bennett and maybe Boly can do this. For the left side, we have Saiss, Max (Kilman) and Boly. The three are ready to go.”