Wolverhampton Wanderers are hoping to spark a change in fortunes following the arrival of new boss Julen Lopetegui, with the experienced Spaniard likely to use this current halt to proceedings to plot ways to improve his ailing squad.
One area that appears in dire need of addressing is in attack, with the Midlands side currently the lowest scorers in the division with just eight goals, having only netted at a rate of a goal a game throughout last term.
Despite a raft of attacking additions in the last 12 months or so, the Molineux outfit have repeatedly been found wanting in the final third, hence the need to provide an alternative solution.
The 26-year-old is yet to justify his reported £14m fee, with the Premier League side having opted to make the striker’s move permanent after initially joining on loan from RB Leipzig in the summer of 2021.
The 49-cap marksman has almost become something of a forgotten figure at the club with just three top-flight starts to his name so far this season, with it yet to be seen if the 5 foot 10 menace will have a greater role to play under the new regime.
Lopetegui has already admitted that he could well be looking to strengthen in the January window, with the 56-year-old seemingly hinting that the forward line could be a priority.
The one-time Real Madrid boss could well save the club millions, however, by instead promoting from within the youth ranks, with 19-year-old Lee Harkin one such talent who may be deserving of a chance ahead of the likes of Hwang and his floundering teammates.
The diminutive teenager is yet to feature for Wolves at senior level, although the Northern Irishman has sparkled in the academy set-up of late, notably scoring seven times in just 19 Premier League 2 games last term.
“Lee Harkin scoring for Wolves Academy against Stockport County tonight, really rate him, for such a young player not only is he clinical but he’s also intelligent with his movement.
“Very smart at opening up the space to get shots away, can adapt all across the front positions.”
The former Derry City man was also praised after penning a new deal with his current side earlier this year, with the club’s technical director Scott Sellars stating:
“Since he’s been here, he’s been a solid and consistent player, having come with a good reputation, and we’re pleased. There’s always a step up to the under-23s and he’s done that as a first-year pro, so has set a good standard for himself.
“He’s played a lot as a winger, but we’ve played him more as a striker this year. We’ve seen him develop and grow – he’s a really hard-working kid, who commits every day, and he’s getting his rewards.
“Lee’s versatile, which is great. In our style of play, inside wingers are very important, and he can do that as well as play down the middle, which is going to benefit him in the long term and present more opportunities.”
Such glowing praise is evidence of just how highly thought of Harkin is at the club, with now potentially an ideal time to thrust him into the action, alongside other emerging talents such as Chem Campbell, Joe Hodge and Hugo Bueno.
Like most incoming managers, Lopetegui may wish to put his stamp on the squad with new additions, although the incoming coach could well be better served scouring the youth ranks rather than the transfer market.