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Nuno proud to lead his pack of Wolves on a European adventure

 

Euro star: Nuno Espirito Santo takes training yesterday
Euro star: Nuno Espirito Santo takes training yesterday

By Nick Mashiter

Boss Nuno Espirito Santo has revealed his pride ahead of Wolves' return to the European stage tonight.

They host Crusaders at Molineux in the second qualifying round of the Europa League - the first time in 39 years the club have played in European competition.

Nuno has taken Wolves from the Sky Bet Championship to Europe in two years after winning the second tier in 2018 and last season's seventh placed Premier League finish.

Wolves last played in Europe in October 1980 when they beat PSV Eindhoven 1-0, losing 3-2 on aggregate, and Nuno is relishing their big night.

"I feel a lot of pride because I'm the manager of a fantastic group of players and of men who want to improve," he said.

"It's our third year together, we know each other very well and we expect things to improve.

"No matter who you play against it's about how you prepare yourself to compete. It's a big, big game for the club. It's up to us to make something special so people are proud of us.

"It was a journey we started two years ago, I remember, we were clear. We tried to build a team, a strong team which could play and compete in every game."

Raul Jimenez and Romain Saiss are unlikely to feature at Molineux in their graded comeback. Striker Jimenez and midfielder Saiss are back in training after returning on Monday following their international duties.

Jimenez won the Gold Cup with Mexico while Saiss helped Morocco to the last-16 of the Africa Cup of Nations.

"They haven't had the same period of rest as the others and we have to manage them, but they are ready in case we decide," said Nuno.

North Belfast side Crusaders finished fourth in the Danske Bank Premiership last season but reached the Europa League by winning the Irish Cup.

Nuno added: "Things are going well and we are inside what we expect. We are ready to do it.

"We go game-by-game, the next game is the Europa League qualifier and that's the most important one."

Matt Doherty remains sidelined with a knee injury he suffered earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Ruben Vinagre has signed a new five-year deal with the club.

The left wing-back has committed his future to the club until 2024 after impressing since his arrival from Monaco.

Sporting director Kevin Thelwell said: "Ruben has developed impressively since joining the club two seasons ago and is an important part of Nuno's squad.

"As the club has grown in recent times, Ruben has done the same, and performed commendably when called upon in the Premier League last season.

"Off the pitch, he provides a mature head for someone so young and is a popular personality inside the dressing room."

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