Wolves had a nightmare in their previous Premier League game after fumbling a 2-0 lead against Leeds United at Molineux to then lose 3-2.
As well as this disappointing result, the Old Gold were also struck with an injury blow after midfielder Ruben Neves was forced off the pitch in the first half with a suspected knee issue.
Now that some days have gone by, it seems as though this injury issue is severe enough to force the midfield maestro out of international duty with Portugal for their upcoming games, which, according to Tim Spiers, has led to former Wolves loanee Vitinha replacing Neves in the squad for his first senior call-up.
While this isn’t a good sign, if the 24-year-old, who is reportedly valued at £41m by the club, isn’t able to recover before Wolves’ next league game against Aston Villa next month once the international break ends, this could give one of the Old Gold’s rarely-seen figures the chance to shine.
As a product of the club’s youth academy, 19-year-old midfielder Luke Cundle had his first real taste of Premier League football earlier this season when he played 84 minutes in Wolves’ 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur. That came after making 87 combined appearances for their U18 and U23 sides, scoring eight goals and providing 14 assists along the way.
In that game against the north London club, the youngster showed just how impressive he is on the ball by racking up a passing accuracy of 96% by completing 24 of the 25 passes he attempted. That shows how similar he is to the Portuguese star, who has been praised for his “clever 5-10 yard passes to get Wolves on the front foot” by journalist Alex Richards in the past.
Since then, the teenager, who has been described as having a “magnificent brain” by James Collins, has been an unused substitute in six of Wolves’ seven previous league games, showing that Bruno Lage sees him as a valid squad option for the team despite not playing particularly regularly.
However, if Neves is set for a significant spell on the sidelines as a result of his knee injury, the Old Gold manager should not think twice when it comes to giving Cundle the chance to once again show what he’s capable of.
If the young prodigy is then able to have a consistent run of games in the league and learn his trade alongside the likes of Joao Moutinho and Leander Dendoncker, he could be seen as a suitable short-term replacement for Neves and perhaps a long-term partner for him in midfield in the future.