Bruno Lage is calling for every member of his Wolves squad to step up and increase their goal average as the side look to find the back of the net for the first time in three games when Brighton & Hove Albion arrive at Molineux on Saturday afternoon.
The head coach revealed he will still be without Maximilian Kilman, Daniel Podence and Ruben Neves this weekend as the trio continue their recovery from injury, and after explaining the advantages of Raul Jimenez’s new protective headgear, has asked his players for more goals from across the pitch, not just the strikers.
On players missing Brighton
“No changes. We still have Max [Kilman], Ruben [Neves] and Daniel [Podence] out. We don’t count these guys for the game, so we try to do what we have in our hands to help them to recover, but I think it would be hard to have these guys in the game. But let’s see.
“For me, it’s a little bit of frustration, especially since February when we had everybody, and we’d come from January which had been a good month for us and good performances at the beginning of February, we expect now that we are here, we are solid and we want to have our best players with us.
“We waited for Boly, for Jonny and for Pedro [Neto] eight months. They are the main players here, and then after that, it was Max, Ruben and Daniel.
“These are the things that come out of our control and the best thing to do every time is to be positive, believe in our players and I believe a lot in them because of the way we work. We have to try to find the best strategy for the game and, in the end, try to pick the best players we have in front of us.”
On Neves’ road to recovery
“He was training yesterday, not today. It would be hard after six weeks to be ready to play 90 minutes as a midfielder and the talent and the quality that he gives to us.
“We want our best players available so of course, if they are, then I put Ruben in. I don’t have any problem to put anyone, Leander, Joao or Luke in that position, but if I have everyone available, I will put Ruben. It’s clear and that’s what I did since the first day.
“He gives us a different dimension as he can find space, works inside the lines and does very well in the build-up. He's a big player for us.
“I don't use that excuse, though. We won against Southampton without him, so let’s see what happens, but in this moment it is hard to think he will return for this game.”
On Jimenez’s head gear
“It’s not about just the protection. The first one was heavier and it was a full head, so the trajectory of the ball sometimes has a difference.
“This one is lighter and just protects the place needed. I feel him better in training and I hope it can help in the games.”
On needing more goals
“I believe a lot in team work, what we are doing here, especially our offensive way to play. From the back, Jose [Sa] and the three centre backs, they grow up so we can control better the game. Some of the games we spent too much time defending. We cannot be that kind of team.
“We need to have more of the ball, to control more of the ball, the work of the midfielders since the first day has been very good, if I play with two or three. If I expect Jose to play better with his feet to help the team, the same way I ask for the strikers to pressure, to be solid, to help the teams not concede goals.
“I expect goals from everywhere. The defenders are doing their jobs because they have goals, full-backs have goals, midfielders have goals, and they know, strikers and wingers know that me, the fans, everyone expect more goals from them.
“I’m the first guy to blame because I’m the first guy to work with them, and the challenge is there to improve them. Some of the guys don’t have big averages of goals, not just this season, so we need to find ways to make the guys better.
“They have ten years of careers and it’s important to have numbers, with goals and assists.”