Rui Patricio’s Wolves shirt number of 11 will upset the football purists out there but if there were questions raised about that at the beginning of the season, his performances have quickly turned attentions elsewhere.
Signed from Sporting Lisbon last summer after the ‘keeper was one of many players to flee following a training ground bust-up, he’s more than proved his worth at his new club. And barring a spectacular turn of events will unlikely have Wolves supporters attacking him either.
He saved one of his best performances of the season for the club’s win over Manchester United on Tuesday evening and as such, has given a selection dilemma to Nuno Santo ahead of their FA Cup semi-final.
Patricio’s distribution hasn’t always been at its best this term. It’s one of the fundamental aspects a goalkeeper seemingly needs in the modern age, but it was the classic attribute of shot-stopping that earned him praise against United this week.
If it wasn’t for the Portuguese international then the Midlands side may easily have tasted defeat, rather than the sweet flavour of victory. He made a save to deny Jesse Lingard just 30 seconds into the encounter and also denied Scott McTominay well in the second half.
Wolves could have rested on their laurels and kept John Ruddy as their main ‘keeper this season. After all, he was superb in the Championship last season. Instead, they invested in someone who has European pedigree and for the most part, he’s performed admirably.
The former Norwich man has been the club’s cup keeper this season and it would feel incredibly harsh to drop him just as Wolves reach the business stage.
He is a dependable stopper but the performance of Patricio in such a big game will give Santo a selection headache.
The fact the club decided to invest in a goalkeeper of his calibre though means it would almost be ridiculous if he wasn’t to get his chance in their biggest game of the campaign.
Matches at Wembley don’t come round very often for teams like Wolves so they need to be at full strength for it. Particularly after losing to Watford already in 2018/19.