Wolves ace’s injury not as bad as feared
Losing Julen Lopetegui just before the season got underway, alongside the earlier departures of Ruben Neves, Adama Traore and Matheus Nunes, the last thing that Wolverhampton Wanderers needed was a slow start. Yet, that’s exactly what they’ve endured under Gary O’Neil.
Truth be told, the Midlands club have been unfortunate at times – they were denied a late penalty against Manchester United and soon received an apology for the incident, before being smashed by Brighton & Hove Albion, and finally getting off the mark with a victory over Everton.
Defeats against Crystal Palace and Liverpool have since followed, but Wolves can once again look back on their performances with great content, particularly when against the Reds, having taken the lead and largely dominated the first 45 minutes.
Following a game of two halves against Liverpool, however, those at Wolves at least received a much-needed injury boost, as confirmed by O’Neil.
What has Gary O’Neil said?
Watching on as his side eventually collapsed amid the Liverpool pressure, O’Neil would have been left frustrated by his side, who did so well to take a 1-0 lead into the break. Alas, it simply wasn’t meant to be, and Wolves, in defeat, may have hoped to avoid any further blows. When Rayan Ait-Nouri was forced off through injury, however, it looked as though the Midlands club were set to get exactly that.
O’Neil has since squashed any concerns, saying, via Molinuex News: “Rayan’s injury was just muscle fatigue really. I don’t expect him to have any problems. We won’t know until next weekend, but he’ll probably just need a few days to recover.”
The former Bournemouth manager will be a relieved man, given how important it is that he has a full squad available when the Premier League fixtures start coming thick and fast. Up next, Wolves square off against Luton Town, where they’ll be the favourites to pick up all three points.
How has Ait-Nouri performed this season?
So far this season, Ait-Nouri has been one of Wolves’ most important players, starting in five of their six games under O’Neil. With that said, it would have been a major blow for the Midlands club, had the fullback suffered a long-term injury. That doesn’t seem to be the case, however, with Ait-Nouri seemingly likely to slot straight back into his starting place.
Ait-Nouri’s rise came as little surprise, with his early progress under Nuno Espirito Santo only a sign of what was to come. The former Wolves boss said, via The Express and Star: “There is improvement, and he’s playing. Regarding the circumstances we have in the squad, he’s having game after game now. So, there’s no better time for improvement than in the game itself. Of course, we work every day with all the players on the aspects that we feel need improvement.”
Now, a key member for his side, Ait-Nouri will likely be looking to kick on even further. Statistically speaking, he’s already impressed this season, as per FBref, with his 20 progressive passes in five appearances proving his ability to help Wolves up the pitch when pressurised, and perhaps even towards Premier League safety.
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