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Wolves: Lopetegui should unleash Joe Hodge

Julen Lopetegui will take charge of his first game as Wolves manager after the World Cup and the Spaniard should consider unleashing Joe Hodge in the first team.

The 20-year-old midfielder has been earning rave reviews in the academy since joining from Manchester City and could add the physicality that Wolves’ midfield currently lacks.

Hodge could even prove to be an upgrade on Joao Moutinho at Molineux, considering the veteran midfielder has struggled for consistent form so far this season and is starting to look well past his best.

The 36-year-old’s form at Wolves has steadily declined in recent seasons, with his 6.61 average rating from WhoScored this term a significant decrease on the 7.01 rating he averaged in the 2019/20 campaign.

With the summer addition of Matheus Nunes, Wolves could be accused of having too many similar players in their midfield, as all three Portuguese players possess similar qualities and deficiencies.

Should Hodge start more often?





Hodge, however, has already earned three appearances in the first team so is clearly on the brink of becoming a regular in the senior side, and considering the Old Gold’s shocking form so far this campaign, he deserves a chance to help turn things around.

The “midfield destroyer” – as per scout Jacek Kulig – earned a lot of praise from academy coach James Collins last season after a defeat against his old side Manchester City in the Premier League 2.

Collins said: “I can’t speak highly enough of Joe. He’s a manager’s dream in the fact that he’s got talent and ability, but also understands that to make it at the top level or any level of professional football you have to do the hard work and the hard yards.

“Nobody I know works harder than him or sticks at it, showing resilience like him. He’s getting his rewards with his performances.

“I think he’s been our standout player this season so far and because of that probably won’t spend much longer in under-21s football. He’ll either get in and around our first team or he’ll get himself a really good loan.”

Wolves need someone with energy and ability in midfield and sadly Moutinho no longer has the legs to cut it in the Premier League, as is evidenced by the fact he scores in the worst possible percentile for players dribbling past him when compared to other midfielders across Europe.

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Lopetegui will no doubt have the chance to assess Hodge during the World Cup break and considering his starring performances with the U21s, for whom he has three goals already this season, the Spanish boss should consider starting him ahead of Moutinho in the Premier League.