Nuno explains Jonny's return to fitness

Nuno Espirito Santo heaped praise on Jonny after the Spaniard returned from injury and signed a new contract this week, but insists patience is still required in his situation.

On Sunday the 26-year-old played his first 45 minutes since suffering a serious ACL injury in August, then three days later he signed a new Wolves contract until 2025, marking a fine week personally. However, Nuno is aware of the precautions required regarding the defender’s return and says it’s about bringing Jonny back to full fitness gradually, rather than pushing him, ahead of Thursday’s Emirates FA Cup tie with Southampton.

On Jonny signing a new contract

“It was very important and we are very pleased. I think it was done even before he returned and in the game everybody saw how important he is for us in the concept of our team. We are delighted he put pen to paper on a new contract.”

On his welcome return

“He’s a very important player because he has all the routines of the team, he’s very competitive, and he’s very talented, so when you have a played with such quality out, you of course miss him. He brings this side of his game, all the talent that he has, the way he defends, so he’s huge for us.

“At the same time, we still have to be really careful on his return, so he has progressive time on the pitch, so we can get the best out of him. We have to be really careful on our decisions, but we are acting as planned, so he’s feeling good and we’ll decide.”

On players understanding staggered return

“They must understand because that’s why the decision makers are here, the doctors and people that really understand. We cannot increase the risk on the situations and the player must be comfortable with the decisions, so we can move forward together.

“It’s not about pushing, it’s about growing until we fully understand he’s totally fit, we have to be very careful. The players understand because we are talking about not only their present, but their future, so they should understand. In the case of Jonny, he truly does.”

On players knowing situations

“The player himself has access to all the data, so he can compare himself, what he does in the training sessions, what he did previously before the injury, how many games he played, the intensity, the high running, the load, they help themselves, they have access to all this data. So, everybody together is when we decide.”

On Boly and Podence

“They are improving, doing treatment, but they are not available for these two games against Southampton – definitely not an option for us. We expect them to get better and gradually return, but I cannot give exact time schedules on that.”

On Ait-Nouri and Marcal

“They are getting better. Rayan [Ait-Nouri] is available to join the squad tomorrow, Marcal not yet.”

On keeping injured players in the bubble

“The protocols are very tricky and some things are really difficult to overcome. The players are being really patient with the situation, cooperative, trying to follow, but at the same time we have a team to prepare, we have things to do.

“It’s always our decision that when a player is injured, even if it’s long-term, they always stay with us, to have them around and at the same time allow them to have a safe environment that we can socialise and be together – it’s fundamental for the recovery of the player. It would be a huge mental mistake to isolate, so I wouldn’t do it."