Julen Lopetegui encourages Wolves players to EMBRACE relegation battle

‘It is a pleasure!’: Julen Lopetegui encourages his Wolves players to EMBRACE their relegation battle… as his side returns to Nottingham Forest seeking revenge for Carabao Cup exit

  • The Spanish coach urged his players to have a ‘strong mentality’ for the season
  • There are only four points between the bottom eight clubs in the table
  • Lopetegui will be able to call upon Matheus Nunes after red card overturned 

Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui has implored his players to look forward to their upcoming relegation fight, calling the challenge a ‘pleasure’ and the team ‘privileged’ to take part in the matches. 

The club currently sits 13th in the Premier League table, but as the teams in the bottom half of the table are clustered so closely together, Wolves are only three points clear of 18th-placed West Ham. 

The London side have two games in hand over Lopetegui’s players. 

But rather than shying away from the pressure, the Spanish coach has called on his team to embrace the battle with a ‘strong mentality’. 

‘It’s a pleasure to play these kinds of matches. We are privileged to have this position to play these matches,’ the manager said ahead of Saturday’s tie against Nottingham Forest. ‘The players have to be ready.’ 

Julen Lopetegui has highlighted ‘the privilege’ of playing high stakes Premier League matches

The Spanish manager called upon his players to fight hard with a ‘strong mentality’

‘We have to enjoy the moments and take advantage of them. To feel this pressure is a good thing, we are fighting very hard. From this moment, with this mentality, it is very important.

‘We have to show maturity and show we are happy to have this challenge in front of us.

‘It’s more important than the tactics sometimes, we are going to be involved until the end. We have to put the focus on ourselves, we respect all the opponents.

‘We have a positive mentality knowing one match is a challenge. The most important thing is to show the strong mentality, it’s about how you react when you lose. We have to be ready and it’s going to be a hard fight until the end.’

Lopetegui’s appointment in November steadied the ship at Molineux but the team suffered a dip in form ahead of the international break, securing just one win in six matches. 

Opponents Forest sit in 16th, a point behind Saturday’s hosts, and under Steve Cooper, the team has had a similarly checkered start to 2023. 

Forest have won four matches since the beginning of the year, with one of them coming against Wolves in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals. 

With both teams unable to break the 1-1 deadlock, the tie was sent to penalties with Forest advancing to face Manchester United. 

Saturday marks the first time that Wolves will return to the City Ground since the defeat, likely eager for revenge. 

Discussing their opponents, Wolves’ manager added: ‘They have invested a lot of money and they are clear on what they want, they are a very complete team.

Boubacar Traore will be available for selection on Saturday after a spell on the sidelines

Jonny’s red card against Leeds puts him out of contention to start against Nottingham Forest

Wolves last travelled to the City Ground for their Carabao Cup quarter-final against Forest

‘In any moment they can damage you, they have quality players and very fast players. The most important thing is we have to be ready, with a very positive mentality and always looking forward with positive thoughts.’

Lopetegui also provided an update on players making the journey to Nottingham, with both Boubacar Traore and Hugo Bueno likely to return to the squad from spells on the sideline. 

South Korean international Hwang Hee-Chan will continue his recovery from a hamstring injury, and Jonny is unavailable after picking up a red card against Leeds in the team’s last match before the break. 

However, Lopetegui will be able to draw upon the services of club record signing Matheus Nunes after his own red card against Leeds was subsequently overturned by the FA.  

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