Nuno Espirito Santo is expecting Wolves fans to create another special atmosphere as European football returns to Molineux tonight.
The head coach is always appreciative of the support a Molineux in full voice gives to the team and he believes the visit of Espanyol in the Europa League group of 32 – the first continental knockout tie at the ground since October 1980 – will be another memorable occasion.
Molineux is set for a virtual full house tonight of around 31,400, with around 1,350 Espanyol fans, and Nuno and captain Conor Coady believes Wolves supporters deserve a lot of credit for the team’s rise over the last two and a half years.
“Yes. Molineux is always special – always,” said Nuno. “The fans are enjoying the trip with us and we want more of this atmosphere at Molineux.
“Our fans help us by creating a fantastic atmosphere, which they always do. This is fantastic for us.
“We had it in the play-off, the group stages – all the games were a full house. I think the fans enjoy (it). It’s amazing.
“I don’t separate competitions, I go game by game and I know our fans are going to be behind us.”
Coady also reckons the fans give the team a great lift at Molineux.
“I think the supporters have done really well, the way they are at Molineux, not just on European nights but in cup games and Premier League games as well,” said the skipper.
“It’s amazing the way they push us. This is a massive game to see where the club is now and how far it’s come in the last few years.
“What the manager and the staff have done to the club in the last few years has been fantastic so I think it’s important that we embrace it again and look forward to it because it’s another game where we want to compete as much as possible.”
Tonight’s game is the 13th Wolves have played in Europe this season – one more than when they reached the final under the competition’s guise as the inaugural UEFA Cup in 1971-72.
They will have their 14th when they go to Barcelona for the return leg next week and will have played 21 matches in Europe in total if they reach the final in Gdansk, Poland in May.
Coady says the strain of the extra games has been helped by the way they have prepared, by compartmentalising each one.
“When you go to games, you’re only making sure you’re ready for the Thursday night,” added the sweeper.
“They’re fantastic experiences, and we said at the start of the season we would enjoy it as much as possible, but when you’re travelling all you’re thinking about is the game.
“You don’t get to take in all the sights and things like that. You just make sure you’re ready come the Thursday night because they’re brilliant games, and something we all look forward to.”
Coady says that despite the number of games in Europe, Wolves have not prioritised any competition over another.
“It’s amazing, but it’s the same for every game – we don’t single out one competition in terms of what we want to do well in or anything like that,” he said.
“It’s another game where we want to compete in and improve and hopefully we’re ready come the night because it’s going to be a really tough game for us.”
Coady added: “It’s been like that since the start for us. I remember watching the group stage draw in the canteen upstairs. It was a sign of excitement.
“For us, though, it does not matter what teams are in it. We’re just embracing it and want to improve as much as we can.”
Ecuador striker Leonardo Campana, signed from SC Barcelona for £300,000 last month, has impressed in training and could make his debut off the bench.
The Wolves captain says he has been impressed with the 19-year-old as he settles into life working with the senior squad on a daily basis.
“Really good. He’s a great lad. You see him in training, he’s putting himself about and working as hard as he can to fit in,” said the skipper.
“He’s done fantastically well, he really has, and it’s up to us to help him as much as we can.”