Wolves Under-23s will be roared on by than 5,000 supporters against Liverpool at Molineux on Wednesday night (7pm) as they try to reach the knockout stages of a European competition.
James Collins’ youngsters face a winner-takes-all fixture against the Reds after 1-1 draws against Paris Saint-Germain and Athletic Club Bilbao in the Premier League International Cup, the Under-23s’ first taste of European competition.
Going into the final match in Group E, Wolves are one point behind the Reds, and two behind rivals PSG and Athletic Club.
A win for Wolves will see them leapfrog their competitors and claim top spot in the group, as well as passage into the quarter-finals.
Wolves are likely to be without winger Jordan Graham, who could be moving to League One Gillingham.
It’s understood the game has come too soon for recent Under-23s signings striker Leonardo Campana from Ecuador side SC Barcelona, midfielder Enzo Loiodice from French outfit Dijon, defender Nigel Lonwijk from PSV Eindhoven and recent Den Bosch midfielder Justin Hubner.
But Collins is delighted to be leading his side out at Molineux for the first time, saying: “That’s why these competitions are so exciting, you get to play against the best teams in European competition.
“We know Liverpool well because they are in our league, but it’s still going to be special to take them on in a European night at Molineux, and a game that everyone is looking forward to.
“Despite playing English opposition, I think the game will still have that European feel, but what it has got is that winner-takes-all outcome in the group, so that will add to the excitement.
“When you’re in a competition and you have to win, that definitely adds something to the occasion.”
Collins added: “What will also add to the game is it being a night match, under the lights at Molineux.
“It’s an iconic stadium and is something we are all looking forwards to.
“It’s not about me, but it’s a real privilege to be managing a Wolves team who will be playing at the main stadium.”
“The players are intelligent people and they know a win is a must if they want to get through to the next round, so it will be on their minds, you can’t stop that.
“But they are also fully aware of the processes required to get that result, so the boys will be ready to play and perform how we know they can do.
“Although the situation will be on the back of their minds I think they will want to play well, and they will want to represent the club well, and if they do that, the result will follow.”
He is also delighted to be up against his old Crewe team-mate in the opposite dugout, Liverpool Under-23s’ coach Neil Critchley.
“I’ve known ‘Critch’ since we were about seven or eight years of age at Crewe,” he recalled.
“We came through the ranks together there and started coaching as young players at Crewe on the same day.
“We know each other very well, have been through a lot together and he has been a massive help to me during my career.
“Even since I’ve started here at Wolves, I’ve asked his advice on what it’s like in your first few days at a big Premier League club, so he’s been a huge help to me.
“I’ll always be grateful for him, but we’ll both be wanting to win. It won’t be about us, it will be about our players and whose team does better.”
Season ticket holders, My Wolves, Young Wolves and #WolfPack member members can gain free entry into Molineux for the 7pm kick-off but must claim their ticket in advance via the club website page here: https://www.wolves.co.uk/news/under-23/20200122-watch-under-23s-in-european-showdown-at-molineux/
Tickets for non-season tickets holders cost £4 for adults and £2 for concessions. Corporate seats are also available in WV1 Bar, costing £10 per adult or £5 per child, and includes:
A drink on arrival (glass of house wine, pint of Carling or soft drink)
Bar snack menu to purchase on the evening
Paid bar facility
Allocated padded corporate seating
Pre-match interview with former player/Wolves staff member
‘Man of the Match’ interview post-match