Luke Hatfield thinks that Pedro Neto‘s quality means he has to come straight back into the side once he returns from injury.
The 21-year-old hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury at Fulham back in April but could return to action before Christmas.
What’s the latest news with Neto?
It’s been a deeply frustrating few months for the Portugal international, who was enjoying another brilliant season at club level and had just started to find his feet for his country.
In 31 games last season, Neto scored five times and chipped in with six assists. Despite missing the final seven Premier League matches, he was Wolves’ joint-top goalscorer, with his final goal of the campaign a wonderful solo effort at Southampton.
Wolves’ form would suffer in Neto’s absence, taking just seven points in their final seven games to eventually finish 13th in the table.
And Wolves are unlikely to have Neto back available for at least another month after Lage revealed that he suffered a setback and could have to wait until December to be back playing again.
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Should that be the case, Neto would have spent around eight months on the sidelines, but Hatfield reckons that once he is injury-free, he simply must start.
What did Hatfield say?
He told GIVEMESPORT: “In terms of where he would fit in, if he’s fit and firing, he has to start. He creates so many chances, he’s such a problem for any team.
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“He’s got brilliant close control, he can score goals, he’s a threat from the edge of the area and he can create opportunities for other players, so, for me, he’ll have to start.”
Is Neto likely to start once he returns?
Despite their recent upturn in results, it still hasn’t quite clicked for Wolves in an attacking sense, even though they’ve scored six times in their last three games.
Lage switched to a 3-5-2 at Villa last weekend, picking Hwang Hee-chan to start alongside Adama Traore, although the Wolves boss has previously opted for a more attacking 3-4-3 with an extra attacking player.
Should Lage revert back to the latter formation once Neto becomes available, he should slot into one of those wide roles. Neto will need time to prove his fitness, but neither Traore nor Trincao are exactly pulling up any trees, so he won’t have too much difficulty reclaiming his place back despite being out for so long.