Wolves’ win over Brighton on Sunday lunchtime felt like a landmark moment for not only Nuno Santo, but also for a number of his young players.
It’s not often that he hands out opportunities to players coming through the academy but their prized asset, Morgan Gibbs-White, fired them to victory.
The jewel of the Compton academy, Gibbs-White had amazingly never scored a Premier League goal before last weekend.
Though, with Wolves winning 2-1, it was the young attacking midfielder they had to thank.
Gibbs-White missed a simple chance late in the second half but just minutes later reacted brilliantly by scoring just as the clock ticked over 90 minutes. The Englishman set himself and then curled the ball home expertly.
The Old Gold may have received a helping hand following Lewis Dunk’s red card but it spoke volumes that one of their most pleasing second-half performances came with their youngest XI of the season.
It should send a message to Nuno that he can rely on the younger players in this squad to shine. He was able to take a look ahead to next season and with nothing to play for between now and the season’s end, he should do so again in the coming weeks.
One player the manager should consider ahead of next season is Austin Samuels.
The striker has started to find the net regularly in the back half of the campaign for the U23s which bodes well considering their lack of depth up front.
Raul Jimenez is still out with a fractured skull while Fabio Silva hasn’t lived up to his enormous potential yet with only four goals all term.
Wolves could welcome back Rafa Mir next season, a man who is in the form of his life on loan at Huesca. He’s scored 16 times in all competitions with his latest strike particularly catching the eye.
With the goalkeeper a tad off his line, the Spaniard looked up and placed the ball over his head from a tight angle.
It was a mesmeric piece of play from Mir but it feels unlikely he’ll be an Old Gold player for too much longer. Real Madrid and Valencia are just two clubs interested in prising him away from English football for good.
If he does go then Samuels should be waiting in the wings patiently for his opportunity to play.
The 20-year-old has already gained senior experience on loan at Bradford City where he played 14 times for the Bantams earlier this term.
His spell was cut short in January but he’s impressed since being reintegrated into James Collins’ side.
Samuels has netted four goals in 13 Premier League 2 outings, including a brace against Newcastle back in March.
Speaking after that game, Collins waxed lyrical about his qualities: “They’re the goals you have to get as a forward and he loves getting goals. He works so hard on his finishing, they boys are doing it every day after training, almost too hard at times,” he began.
“When he misses one, he practices more and practices more because that’s the only way he knows. Sometimes I think that can almost get in his head a little bit, but he’s had a really good week working at it, so I’m delighted for him to get those goals, because I felt he’s really deserved it,” Collins concluded.
Possessing the ability to play on the flanks as well as through the middle, he’d offer valuable depth to a frontline currently plagued by injuries.
Nuno could do far worse than beginning to integrate him into the senior side in the last few weeks of the season. He hasn’t played for the first-team yet but that should change.