Belfast Telegraph

Wolves won't fall victim to a Europa League hangover, maintains Santo

All good: Nuno Espirito Santo has confidence in his players
All good: Nuno Espirito Santo has confidence in his players

By Nick Mashiter

Nuno Espirito Santo dismissed fears Wolves' mammoth Europa League trip will hurt them in the Premier League.

Wolves face FC Pyunik of Armenia in the first leg their third round qualifying match this evening (5pm).

The squad flew out to Yerevan yesterday afternoon and are due to come straight back after the game - a round trip of 6,370 miles.

To make matters even more complicated, the match is just 72 hours before their opening Premier League game of the season at Leicester on Sunday.

Santo said: "It's the reality, it's very far but it's more important to prepare well.

"We're going to fly and try in the flight there and the return to make this time useful for them, trying to rush the recovery of the players.

"It's a challenge and we'll embrace it by doing our best. We are not worried, we are ready to do it. It's what we do.

"You have to decide game by game, play the game, think about the rest and then we'll think about Leicester.

"We are very proud because achieving what we did last season was huge for the club. As a group of professionals it is a challenge and we want to embrace it.

"Pyunik did well in the previous round, we have been analysing them and we expect it to be tough. In football there are no favourites, we have to play the game."

The transfer window closes today while Santo and the squad are in eastern Europe and the manager refused to rule out any late signings.

He added: "The reality is the market is still open so let's see. When it's closed and finished, let's talk about it."

Matt Doherty will travel after recovering from a knee injury while new striker Patrick Cutrone, who joined from AC Milan last week, and Real Madrid loanee Jesus Vallejo could make their debuts.

Morgan Gibbs-White is a doubt after suffering minor ligament damage in the 4-1 win second-leg win at Crusaders last week but Raul Jimenez is fit after a foot knock.

Hundreds of Wolves fans are expected in Yerevan for their first European game outside of the UK since 1980.

They beat Crusaders 6-1 on aggregate in the second qualifying round despite an incredibly brave effort from the Belfast side.

The winners of the tie will face Italian side Torino or Shakhtyor Soligors of Belarus in the final qualifying round before the group stages.

Belfast Telegraph


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