In the early days of the January transfer window, Wolves made the decision to recall defender Dion Sanderson from his loan spell with Birmingham City in the Championship.
During his time at St Andrew’s, the 22-year-old made 16 senior appearances for the club across the Championship and Carabao Cup, keeping six clean sheets in the process.
As a product of Wolves’ youth system, Sanderson had completed two previous loan spells before making the move to Birmingham, with Sunderland and Cardiff City also having him in their respective squads.
At Wolves, the defender has made 46 appearances for the under-18 side and 27 for the under-23s, but he only has one appearance for their first team, which came during their fourth round Carabao Cup clash against Aston Villa in 2019.
Now that he has returned to Molineux, this could be his chance to show to Bruno Lage, the rest of the coaching staff and the Wolves fans that he has what it takes to be a regular figure for the Old Gold instead of going out on loan again.
Wolves are temporarily without Romain Saiss after he recently jetted off to take part in the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Moroccan has been a significant player for Lage this season, having started all 19 of their league games and earned himself a solid overall performance rating of 7.02/10 from WhoScored, making him their second-highest rated player. However, the 31-year-old’s absence could pave the way for Sanderson to take his place in the team for the time being.
In addition, with fellow Wolves defender Willy Boly having a worrying injury record, this could also persuade Lage to give Sanderson the chance to prove himself in the first team at Molineux.
Having been labelled a “Rolls Royce” of a player by Sunderland manager Lee Johnson during his time at the Wearside club, the 22-year-old could end up saving Wolves and Jeff Shi millions in potential transfer fees if he proves to be a useful option by impressing on the pitch.
However, his lack of Premier League experience could deter Lage from giving him a chance to play given how Wolves haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders in terms of their attack, with just 14 goals scored in 19 games. They have instead relied on their sturdy defence to see them through games this season, with just 14 goals conceded, and that is the standard Sanderson must meet if he wants to make a first team breakthrough at Molineux in 2022.