Early Europa League participation has put Wolves’ players at increased risk of burning out

Wolves enjoyed a terrific first season back in the top-flight of English football. As if their 16 points against the Premier League’s top six wasn’t enough, they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and also qualified for the Europa League.

Nuno Santo has done a terrific job and the Wolves journey shows no signs of slowing down. Last season they were in the Championship. Next term, they’ll be in Europe for the first time since 1980.

The Portuguese manager has had what feels like an easy ride this season. He’s been able to pick a settled team most weeks and with a lack of injuries, their lack of depth hasn’t been tested too much.

On the chalkboard

To put it simply, Wolves need more bodies. If they’re to make a proper fist of the Europa League then it’ll be essential to either promote some of their best young talents or to seek quality from elsewhere.

The Midlands club will begin their Europa League campaign on 25th July, just a month after their usual pre-season training begins.

At that point in the season, it’s unlikely many players will be up to speed and Nuno could be forced to rely on a host of fringe players, particularly with some of his star men on international duty over the summer.

The likes of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho have been near ever-present for Wolves this season but they face the prospect of going to the Nations League with Portugal in the first week of June. With that in mind, it’s extremely likely they’ll need a longer period of time off.

The same can be said for Rui Patricio whilst Diogo Jota, who earned his first international call-up this year, could go to the tournament too.

With that in mind, the fear of burnout for some players has become a real possibility.

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International commitments don’t stop there, however. Ruben Vinagre has been included in the Portugal squad for the U20 World Cup and Morgan Gibbs-White may also be in England’s travelling party for the U21 European Championships.

As a result, a number of star players could be in danger of not having a full pre-season and missing crucial qualifying matches. Wolves have too much quality to turn out how Burnley did this season but there should be concerns for Nuno considering how many matches some players have in their legs.

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