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Bruno Lage drops Raul Jimenez hint as Wolves boss plots changes for Aston Villa

Birmingham Mail logo Birmingham Mail 15/10/2021 Alex Dicken
Wolves head coach Bruno Lage (right) and striker Raul Jimenez © Matthew Lewis/Getty Images Wolves head coach Bruno Lage (right) and striker Raul Jimenez

Bruno Lage has played down suggestions he could rest star man Raul Jimenez for Saturday’s West Midlands derby with Aston Villa.

Wolves make the 15-mile trip to Villa Park after the two-week international break reached its conclusion.

Jimenez only reported back to Compton Park on Friday morning after travelling to Mexico and El Salvador to represent his country for the first time in almost a year.

The 30-year-old featured in all three of Mexico’s games and scored the clinching penalty in their 2-0 win over El Salvador in the early hours of Thursday morning.

In total, Jimenez played 184 of Mexico’s 270 minutes - but Lage is prepared to start the striker against Villa.

“Raul only played, I think, 90, 60 and 30, so it’s not a question,” Lage responded when asked whether he is contemplating resting Jimenez following his international exertions with Mexico.

“All the teams have this kind of problem, the players will arrive today (Friday) - especially the players from Brazil, who played yesterday (Thursday).

“It’s a question of deciding the best thing for each moment. When you look back and see the way Raul played in the last two games, with a goal and two assists with two good performances, but now we need to make our best decisions.”

In addition to Jimenez, Wolves trio Romain Saiss, Willy Boly and Hwang Hee-chan also left Europe for international duty.

Lage is concerned about Saiss, in particular, after the defender played every single minute of Morocco’s three matches between October 6 and 12.

He added: “I think we will take more care about the guys who play more time, like Saiss, than Raul. Saiss played three games and today (Friday) he rested. It’s more about the minutes they have in the game.”

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If Lage does decide to rest Saiss, Boly - whose only 90 minutes for the Ivory Coast came over a week ago - is likely to come into Wolves’ starting XI.

Boly has been made to wait for his chance in the Premier League after picking up a hamstring injury in Wolves’ second pre-season game versus Real Betis.

The Ivorian returned to full fitness shortly after the season kicked off in August, but the performances of Saiss, Conor Coady and Max Kilman have seen him frozen out.

“This can happen,” Lage explained. “He was out. Boly is a professional so the character is the same, he works hard every day to improve and he respects it.

“I don’t want players happy when they don’t play, I want players unhappy. But in the same way, Boly has shown me his character and his respect because the other guys - Max, Saiss - are doing well.

“What I want from him and from the other guys (out the team) is this character to come and work hard every day, and respect the work of the guys who are inside (the team).”

Wolves will be without Portuguese winger Francisco Trincao, who remains in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 whilst on international duty. Adama Traore is favourite to replace Trincao in Wolves' starting XI.

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