Wolverhampton Wanderers’ start to the 2021/22 campaign was far from ideal.
Bruno Lage endured a rough and tumble beginning as Wolves boss with three straight defeats but his fortunes have swiftly changed.
The Midlands outfit have gone from a lacklustre side under Nuno Santo last term to a team now right in the hunt for European football, something Jeff Shi and Fosun will no doubt be delighted with.
However, they now have to negotiate the murky and choppy waters of the festive period.
A clash against Burnley is first up for Lage and his side in December but they will have to do it without star midfielder Ruben Neves who will miss the visit of the Clarets due to suspension.
Missing Neves is sure to come as a pretty hefty blow to Wolves. After all, his importance to the team has been immense this campaign with the Portuguese maestro failing to miss a match all season and starting all but two Premier League encounters.
What makes this even more troubling is a lack of depth in central areas. Morgan Gibbs-White is out on loan at Sheffield United while Bruno Jordao is out injured.
Joao Moutinho will be relied upon to set the tone but with Romain Saiss and Leander Dendoncker now preferred in the backline, it will be interesting to see who partners the experienced dynamo in the middle of the park.
One man that Lage should turn to is teenager Luke Cundle.
The 19-year-old now skippers the club’s U23 side and is impressing all the time at youth level. He’s made such impressive strides that he has been training with the senior team ahead of the game with Burnley on Wednesday evening.
That leads us to believe that he could be a viable solution to the manager’s current dilemma and it wouldn’t be a great surprise if he did start the match.
After all, the youngster is tidy on the ball and could provide Wolves with a spark they’re missing with Neves out.
He has found the net on eight occasions during his youth career, laying on 12 assists in the process too.
A rave review from U23 boss, James Collins, tells you why he’s so highly rated at Molineux. He once said: “He’s got an outstanding brain and drives the game, he runs the game and dictates it which is a great skill.
“He’s intelligent, makes good decisions, can attack and defend and when you first see him, you wonder whether he could be a Premier League player because he’s slight and small.”
Collins added: “He’s ready for that step up. Whether that’s with our first team or whether that’s a loan, because watching him [against Birmingham City U23s], I thought he was magnificent.”
With those comments in mind, Lage should definitely turn to the exciting teenager in midweek. He has only ever made two senior appearances but it could just be game-changing for Wolves.