An international break usually has a tendency to be a pillar of frustration, especially when your country plays a pretty meaningless friendly.
Players will come back injured and, in the case of Wolves, the last few weeks haven’t been particularly kind to them on the injury front.
They’ve lost Jonny to yet another ACL problem and, during the break, they also lost Joao Moutinho for a period of time. The midfielder picked up a groin problem during Portugal’s 1-0 win over Azerbaijan and didn’t make it back out for the second half of that encounter.
That caused him to miss Wolves’ clash with West Ham on his return to England, despite Nuno Espirito Santo claiming that the issue was getting better.
Speaking in the build-up to that game, the manager commented: “It was an injury that didn’t allow him to play with Portugal. It’s still being assessed, let’s wait. It was at the beginning of the first game, he only made 45 minutes and was not able to continue for the second-half. Since then, he’s not been training as normal, he didn’t join the group yet, but he’s improving.”
Unfortunately for Wolves, Moutinho has not improved sufficiently over the last week or so. As a result, he is set to miss their match against Fulham on Friday night.
The news was confirmed by Ben Dinnery on Twitter, who said: “No changes on the injury front which means Joao Moutinho (groin) remains sidelined. Willy Boly (COVID-19) will rejoin the group from next week while Jonny faces a 9-12 month recovery after suffering a recurrence of an ACL rupture.”
To lose a player to injury during club action is frustrating but for Moutinho to pick up this problem while on international duty is even worse.
Leander Dendoncker was his replacement last time out and he actually scored a rare goal, but a player of the 34-year-old’s calibre would be a huge absentee for anyone. The midfield general is one of Nuno’s chief quarterbacks and, after a rather disappointing start to the campaign, he has improved in the last few months.
Moutinho scored a screamer against Arsenal and then picked up an assist against Manchester City. He has put in some all-action displays of late, winning nine tackles and playing eight key passes in his last five matches.
That was compared to just six tackles and six key passes in the five outings prior to that. The experienced midfielder has seemingly been ruled out just as his season was improving, and his continued absence will be a huge source of frustration for everybody at Wolves.