Nuno Espirito Santo believes Wolves have found their European legs – and it has made them better prepared to face Villa on Sunday.
The Molineux head coach was impressed by the structure his players showed in containing Slovan Bratislava in the 1-0 win on Thursday night.
Nuno believes his side showed an improved economy of movement, leaving the players fresher for the visit of Dean Smith’s side for the West Midlands derby.
“I was impressed by a lot of things,” said Nuno. “On Thursday we managed the game better, so the distances that the players covered (were less) and the impact is totally different.
“This is the growing process we want, so we have to improve and we work a lot.
“It’s about growing during the competition; each moment we compete is a moment where we try to make new things, new solutions, new lines, new process.
“It’s growing in the competition. It’s very good and it’s what team needs.”
Max Kilman impressed on his sixth appearance for the side at left-sided centre back and Nuno has been highly impressed by the 22-year-old, especially since he has made a transition from non-league with Maidenhead United and futsal, the small-sided game played with a smaller ball.
“First of all I’m delighted for him,” said the boss. “He performed very well – you can see the growing of him since the first time he played.
“I think it was Fulham at home at the end of last season when he first played and he’s progressing.
“Each time he goes on the pitch he feels better and stronger. We cannot forget where Max came from, so I am delighted for him. Thursday felt good, so well done Max.”
Wolves were without Morgan Gibbs-White on Thursday for the fourth game in a row. Nuno says the 19-year-old midfielder is still experiencing lower back pain that caused him to pull out of the last England Under-21s squad.
“We still have to take care of Morgan. This small back pain he has, we’ve tried to offload him,” said the coach.
“He was not on the bench on Thursday, but Benno (Ryan Bennett) has come back and Saiss is better, so we’re managing the squad. I hope he can join us of course.”
Adama Traore suffered a knock in the first half against Bratislava but Nuno is expecting him to be fit to face one of his former clubs.
“I think he’s OK, let’s see. This was a competing knock, it happens. It was a tough game for us,” he added.