Flash back to the end of the 2016/17 Championship season and you’ll see Wolves sat in mediocrity. In that campaign, they finished 15th, something that’s now become a distant memory.
For large parts of the Molineux faithful, it’s probably been forgotten about completely. Wolves were to gain promotion the following year, and now they’re on the verge of European football after sealing seventh in the Premier League.
What a difference just a couple of years make in football. Nuno Santo has done quite the job, and he’s been able to turn what was a distinctly average team into one of the most exciting in England.
But it hasn’t come without its issues. When is football ever that simple? One of the main problems to come from their stellar first term back in the big time has been depth. It’s no secret. In fact, it’s something that’s been at the forefront of many minds towards the back end of the season.
The club crashed out of the FA Cup and then looked to fade. However, in typical Wolves style over recent years, they bounced back, showing tremendous resilience.
Plans will now be drawn up ahead of the summer transfer market. Wolves need to add bodies to their squad, but what if they were to look towards internal solutions, rather than external?
Move over Jorge Mendes – the man largely responsible for the club’s impressive recruitment over the last few summers – because Wolves have a batch of highly promising youngsters coming through. Their U23 side had a terrific campaign, winning Premier League 2 Division 2 under the stewardship of Rob Edwards.
Within that side, there are three main candidates who could quite easily boost the club’s depth next season. Here they are in all their glory.
If anyone is likely to succeed from Wolves’ promising academy then it’ll be 19-year-old striker Ennis. He’s already had setback after setback in his career and if his mentality is anything to go by, then he’s destined to achieve at the top level.
During the 2016/17 season, Ennis was meant to play a big part for Shrewsbury. The forward signed on loan but would only play two matches, breaking his fibula and then suffering a knee injury. His ability to bounce back from that at such a young age is admirable.
It’s not been a story of fading away like it is with so many young footballers. Instead, he made his first-team debut this season, featuring in the FA Cup, whilst he played a pivotal part in the academy’s title win. During that run, he scored nine goals in 20 matches, whilst also claiming three assists.
With murmurs of Ivan Cavaleiro departing Molineux this summer, per The Mirror, now could the ideal opportunity for Ennis to prove his worth to the first team. After all, it would save the club trying to bring in a replacement.
Another forward, Ashley-Seal’s development this season has been fascinating and the club owe a huge thanks to him for helping them win a league title at youth level. Before moving out on loan, he scored ten goals in ten games.
Having featured against Ajax in pre-season and then played twice in the Carabao Cup, he was rewarded with a bumper contract in January. He then moved on loan to Famalicao in Portugal’s second tier.
The 20-year-old enjoyed a productive spell, scoring once in the five games he played in. His only strike came in a fixture where Famalicao were promoted, contributing to a slice of history as his loan side went up to Liga NOS for the first time in 25 years.
He may not have played too many games but his exposure to senior football in a foreign country will have been of great benefit. Like Cavaleiro, Helder Costa is set to be made surplus to requirements in the summer. As a result, it’s another spot begging to be claimed by one of the club’s young stars.
One of the less familiar players that academy boss Edwards has brought through is Portuguese midfielder Pote. Yes, that’s yet another Wolves player hailing from the Iberian country.
The 20-year-old is a fine talent and after playing a part in the club’s pre-season last summer is someone who can really kick on going into the new campaign.
Pote was another of the U23s’ best players during their Premier League 2 Division 2 success, playing 19 matches and scoring four times from the middle of the park. He also laid on a further three goals for his teammates.
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Boosting fantastic technical abilities, he’d be the perfect man to bring into Nuno’s team next season. Such is his creative nature and discipline on the ball that he wouldn’t look out of place.
Birmingham Live revealed that Wolves are looking to add to their midfield ranks this summer. However, they may just be better off bringing through Pote.
Super agent Mendes has done a canny job of providing Wolves with shrewd acquisitions over the last two years, but this method could prove an even bigger success.
After all, what football fan doesn’t like seeing a young player come through their club’s system?