O’Neil buzzing: Wolves confirm double boost before Brentford

    Wolverhampton Wanderers have been handed a pair of massive boosts on the team news front ahead of their clash with Brentford this Saturday, with the feel-good factor continuing to echo around Molineux this season.

    O’Neil defying expectations

    Heading into the campaign, expectations were low for the Midlands outfit if truth be told. Former boss Julen Lopetegui departed the club just three days before the new Premier League season after a protracted dispute over transfers, and the club appointed former Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil on short notice.

    With the club sailing close to the wind with financial fair play and desperate to avoid the fate that has since befallen Everton, money was tight at Molineux even with the departure of club captain Ruben Neves, especially given that they had already committed to the permanent signing of Matheus Cunha from Atletico Madrid.

    As a result, plenty expected them to be stuck in a relegation dog-fight, and four defeats in their opening five games did little to change that. However, they have since turned their fortunes around and a comprehensive win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their most recent Premier League outing saw them leapfrog the Blues and head into the top half of the table, 13 points clear of the drop zone and almost certain to be playing Premier League football once more next season.

    Indeed, a win in their next game could see them move yet further up the Premier League and onto the cusp of European football should results go their way, with seventh placed West Ham just four points ahead of O’Neil’s side.

    Now, they host a Brentford side far less certain of its place in next season’s top flight, with the Bees struggling for form even with the return of talisman Ivan Toney from a gambling ban. Thomas Frank’s side have picked up just 22 points from 22 games and sit three points above the drop zone, albeit with Nottingham Forest and Luton Town between them and 18th placed Everton.

    Wolves team news brings double boost

    To that end, Wolves have confirmed a major boost as a pair of stars are set to return from international duty in time for the clash, with O’Neil said to be very pleased. Both Boubacar Traore and Hwang Hee-Chan have missed the last three games for their club side after representing Mali and South Korea in the Africa Cup of Nations and Asian Cup respectively.

    However, their runs in those competitions have since come to an end, with Hwang’s side knocked out at the semi-final stage by Jordan in a shock result. Traore, meanwhile, suffered quarter-final heartbreak against the Ivory Coast, as the Elephants scored in the 90th minute to force extra time, before netting in stoppage time at the end of the added time to send Mali home.

    It is good news for Wolves though, with Hwang the club’s joint top goalscorer as things stand and now ready to be unleashed on Brentford, while the return of Traore means that O’Neil has more depth in the centre of the park.

    Wolves top scorers


    Hwang Hee Chan


    Matheus Cunha


    Mario Lemina


    Pedro Neto


    Matt Doherty


    It remains to be seen whether O’Neil restores either to the starting lineup after impressive performances from both Pedro Neto and Matheus Cunha in the last game, but the pair could well be game-changers from the substitutes bench against the tired legs of the Bees.

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