Raul Jimenez was expected to start the game on the bench but was unable to do so after he was in pain during the warm-up, and he was replaced by Chem Campbell, as new signing Sasa Kalajdzic made his first start for the Old Gold.
Following the game, Bruno Lage explained Jimenez’s absence, saying: “We played Raul three games in a row without him doing a pre-season. It was so hard for him to go to the bench. When he tried to run, it was with little pains, chronic fatigue, as we are in this situation.”
Wolves were forced into playing the Mexico international in three consecutive games because of their own failure to sign a striker until right before the deadline, with teenage forward Fabio Silva also inexplicably sent out on loan.
As Lage suggests, Jimenez didn’t have a pre-season because of injury, so to throw him in at the deep end and give him so many minutes straight away was always going to end badly.
While it is unclear whether or not Jimenez will be fit for next weekend’s game against Liverpool at Anfield, it is a significant blow for Lage for his main striker to be struggling so much with fatigue so early in the season.
Although he has struggled for consistent form since his fractured skull injury, the former Benfica man still finished as Wolves’ top scorer and top assister in the Premier League last season, which emphasises how important he is at Molineux.
Only two years ago, Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan dubbed Jimenez “world-class” and considering some of the players he has played with in his career, this goes to show just how good the striker can be when on form.
While Kalajdzic could step in while Jimenez recovers, the Austrian also came off injured against Southampton and is obviously new to English football, so it would be unfair to expect him to contribute a lot of goals and assists straight away.
Therefore, it is undoubtedly a blow for Lage that Jimenez wasn’t fit against Southampton, as he will definitely boost Wolves’ chances as they prepare for two of the hardest games of the season against Liverpool and Manchester City in the next fixtures.