Wolves have begun to rediscover themselves over the last few weeks.
They beat Arsenal in controversial circumstances before holding their own in 0-0 draw with Leicester last weekend. It was an impressive result, one that ended with just their second clean sheet in the league since October.
There is a great debate at Wolves at the moment; play with three at the back or four at the back? With four members making up Nuno Santo’s backline, it’s often caught out Conor Coady and leaked goals.
It has garnered just one league clean sheet and Coady has been questioned for his displays. He was withdrawn for the very first time by Nuno against West Brom after giving away a penalty, something that demonstrated that not even the club captain is free from scrutiny.
Though, another issue has been their full-backs.
Nelson Semedo has been extremely suspect defensively while Jonny only just returned from injury against Leicester after being absent since August. Marcal and Rayan Ait-Nouri are also out injured so it’s safe to say Nuno’s options are stretched.
The immediate fix right now would be to consistently play Jonny. That will be the long-term solution but after being withdrawn at half-time in the draw with the Foxes, the Spaniard clearly isn’t ready to play 90 minutes.
Considering the size of his lay-off, that’s hardly surprising. In order to combat that Nuno should look towards giving Ki-Jana more game time.
Whether it’s on the right-hand side of defence or on the left, he offers a valuable option for the Molineux outfit. He dealt well with Leicester’s attack last weekend but that isn’t the only time he’s proven to be adept against high-class opponents.
The summer signing from Liverpool has only been afforded two Premier League starts but stood out against Manchester United. He built a fabulous relationship with Coady who was keen to bark instructions at the young Dutchman. The Wolves defence were only breached late on at Old Trafford and Hoever was one of the faces Nuno had to thank for such an industrious defensive display.
Birmingham Live reporter Alex Dicken stated that he “didn’t put a foot wrong” in that game and the numbers more or less support that claim. Hoever won three tackles and six duels – the second most of anyone in the Wolves team for both statistics.
Hoever also caught the eye against Leicester. He was keen to get forward from wing-back and completed two dribbles, as well as winning three duels in his minimal time on the field. Consider the fact he was playing in an unfamiliar position on the left and it makes for pleasant reading.
Given Wolves are stretched for options defensively, unleashing Hoever in the FA Cup on Thursday evening isn’t a bad idea.
The Midlands side face Southampton and in the words of Jeff Shi, the Dutchman can offer a “fresh and potent” threat.
With the Saints licking their wounds from the 12 goals they’ve conceded over their last two matches, Wolves must look to cash in by playing the flying wing-back.