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Wolves: Lopetegui must unleash Daniel Podence v West Ham

Wolves return to Premier League action on Saturday as they take on fellow strugglers West Ham United at Molineux, and Julen Lopetegui should unleash Daniel Podence in this afternoon’s clash.

After promising displays in cup games against Liverpool and Nottingham Forest over the last week, the Old Gold return to the bread-and-butter of the league with a hugely important clash against David Moyes‘ side.

A win for Lopetegui’s men would see them leapfrog the Hammers and potentially move out of the relegation places, so three points should be considered a must for the home side at Molineux.

After featuring for just 31 minutes against Forest in midweek and not at all at Anfield seven days ago, the manager should consider reinstating Podence to his starting line-up today.

The former Olympiacos man is Wolves’ current joint-top scorer for the season alongside Ruben Neves and has impressed since Lopetegui’s arrival, earning 7.33 and 7.86 ratings from WhoScored for his recent performances against Everton and Aston Villa respectively.

Former Wolves midfielder Dave Edwards was full of praise for the 27-year-old and what he could offer to the team.

In a column for the Express and Star, the Welshman wrote: “I like him, he tries that hard pass which will score you a goal or create you a chance, but he will give it away at times, he never plays safe, and he is always looking to affect the game.”

Sky Sports co-commentator Alan Smith has also praised Podence after his winning goal against Leicester last season, stating: “He’s shown us some delightful touches out there. And to get the winner. Great work ethic and a brilliant performance from him.”

Podence ranks fourth for shots, third for key passes and joint-sixth for dribbles per game among Wolves’ squad, so it is clear to see the quality that he brings in the final third when starting.

While things have improved under Lopetegui, Wolves are still the lowest goalscorers in the Premier League so far this season with just 11 to their name, so they need as much creativity as possible if they are to find a way past West Ham’s defence this afternoon.

After being omitted from the last two starting XIs, it seems clear that the in-form winger should get the nod to start today, as his ability in the final third could be the difference between victory and more dropped points.