Bruno Lage has admitted concerns with Raul Jimenez’s fitness ahead of a visit to Leeds United after the Mexican was left on the bench for 89 minutes of last weekend’s victory over Aston Villa.
The head coach, who will be without Willy Boly for Saturday’s trip to Elland Road after the defender only trained for the first time on Friday following a bout of sickness, said he is yet to make a decision over whether Jimenez – who scored the winning goal when the sides met last season – will be involved this weekend, as he tries not to burn his striker out due to a busy schedule with both Wolves and the Mexican national team.
On managing Jimenez’s hectic schedule
“That’s the balance we need to find. We both agreed, me and the Mexican national coach, we don’t want an injured Raul. He managed well, Raul played 90, after 60 and after 30, but my concern is about the travel.
“He travelled and arrived on Friday, and when you look at him, he needs to recover and sleep. On Saturday, I looked at him and he said he feels OK, but I need to take my decisions. When I sent him to warm up, every time I looked, he said he was OK, but inside I want to help the team. We need to take the best decisions.
“In the future, I think the best thing to do is day by day, we manage him, it’s important for us and Mexico. We don’t want an injured Raul. We want to take the best for him in the Premier League, and it’s proud for us and also for the fans to see Raul play for Mexico at a World Cup.
“Let’s see [if he will play against Leeds]. He’s training, he feels ok, so tomorrow I take my decision. But he will travel with us.”
On having an attacking selection headache
“That’s the thing I want, these problems. Trincao, Daniel [Podence], Adama [Traore], Hwang; these guys can play inside wings and every one of them has his own profile, and the most important thing for me is to find what do we need for that game.
“What we need at the beginning of the game and during the game, what will happen. I’m very happy with these solutions because these guys give us a lot. Not only the guys who start, but the guys who came on and helped us to be more competitive, like happened with Daniel in the last game, and also happened with Daniel and Hwang at Watford.
“The four guys are ready to start the game for us, and that’s the thing I want as a manager, to look for my players and see if they can give me lots of things. Now it’s my time, this is my job to prepare the right strategy, to choose the best ones to start and try to understand every moment of the game and try to change.
“I’m happy with all of them and that’s why the last two weeks, we’re talking about, ‘Why is Adama not playing?’ But it’s because the other three guys are also doing very well. Not just the guys who start, like Hwang and Trincao, but the guys who come on like Daniel.”
On facing Marcelo Bielsa
“I met him at the beginning of the season when we had a manager meeting, I spoke with him for five minutes and we spoke about my player at Benfica, Helder Costa, and the way he talked about him, it looks like he’s a real gentleman.
“He’s a real gentleman outside of football and inside football he’s got a brilliant mind who thinks football in his own way. When you have the chance to see his lectures and when you have the chance to analyse his team, the way he plays, you’re going to play against a strong opponent.
“Tomorrow we’re going to play against a strong team, and it’s going to be a pleasure to play against Bielsa, because when you look for the team you can learn a lot of things; the way he moves, the way he wants his team to play, and in this way, it’s going to be a strong challenge for us.
“When they don’t have the ball, they want to press and when they have the ball, they want to find a lot of spaces, so we have to be tomorrow in a good way, the top level, to win against Leeds.”
On stopping Leeds from countering
“I know Raphinha from Sporting and I know Daniel [James] because he worked with me at Swansea. I know what they can do, they are good players, and the dangers from Leeds come from several sides, not just the wingers.
“If you see the position for the right and left-back, sometimes they go inside, and find positions inside, the strikers every time attack the back of our defenders, so they know what to do with the ball.
“We need to be in our best way to compete with everything, but what we want more is to have the ball and create our own problems.”
On Leeds’ growing injury list
“First of all, they are important players, like we had with Raul the last game. In the same way, it’s a question of opportunity. The players coming inside will have an opportunity to show something.
“Leeds have their own problems, but if you look at us and what happened in the last two weeks, we also had our own problems; Boly is out, Raul was out, Hwang had travelled, Trincao was out for ten days with Covid, Yerson is out, Pedro Neto was one of the best players last season and is out, so when you look back at the problem, it’s similar problems.
“The pride I have in this moment is the same Bielsa has in his own players – if we can change the team, the standards are there, the way to play is there. He will choose 11 guys, I will choose my 11 guys, and, for sure, the guys who go inside will continue to play like the team usually plays.”
At the request of our players, we held a basic life support training session at Compton this afternoon.— Wolves (@Wolves) October 20, 2021
You never know when these skills might be needed. Be prepared. pic.twitter.com/iLL8D1EVQj
On the players learning CPR
“Not just for the players, I think it should be for all the population. When I was in school, I learned some of the techniques, but that was 20 years ago.
“It’s not just for the players because what happened in the Newcastle game with Tottenham, it can happen in our lives, in the streets, in cinemas. If everybody knows these little techniques, you can help someone for the first moments and the first minutes, then after they get the medical support.
“It’s not just about football, but about the population in general. But it was a good start of the week for us to start with that, seeing all the players involved to learn the techniques.”