Date: 12th January 2016
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Wolves must quickly come to terms with the loss of Benik Afobe as Fulham come to Molineux in a return of championship action.
Despite the loss of perhaps our best player, manager Kenny Jackett will be keen to extend the run of three league wins when taking on a Fulham, who themselves have picked up just one win in eleven games.
This will of course be a lot more difficult in Adobe’s absence. Sigurdarson’s injury picked up against West Ham also leaves loanee Adam Le Fondre as the only recognised experienced striker available for the game against the Cottagers.
This is in stark contrast to a mere few months ago when an attacking trio of Bakary Sako, Benik Afobe and Nouha Dicko were tearing up defences and mounting a serious challenge for a playoff spot.
Jackett has been open about his search for a quick replacement for Afobe, as 20-year-old Zach Clough from Bolton remains a target despite interest from Bristol City. Tom Bradshaw from Walsall and Conor Washington from Peterbrough have also been rumoured. Jackett and the board need to prove that despite the sale of Afobe there is ambition at the club and splashing out on more talent would go a long way in showing that.
Wolves have already forked out on Polish winger Michal Zyro, who made his debut against West Ham, and further signings this month would be welcomed. Fans are not necessarily expecting big money signing but enough quality additions to compliment what we already have. Last season’s January purchases for example, Graham and Afobe, both proved to be valuable assets in the long run.
Despite three league clean sheets in a row, the defence does also need to be addressed. Wolves have come under serious pressure in this run of games and if not for the reflexes of Carl Ikeme, would have surely dropped points. Further experience at the back is much needed.
Players such as Rajiv Van la Parra, George Saville, Tommy Rowe and Zele Ismail are surely on their last chance to impress and will need replacements if they leave.
New Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic will be without striker Cauley Woodrow, who picked up an injury in the FA cup tie with Sheffield Wednesday, but will still have £11 million signing Ross McCormack leading the line. Having spent over £20 million since relegation, Fulham are a perfect example of a team who have spent big to get back into the Premier League and failed. Something Wolves are trying desperately to avoid.
Wolves ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Ikeme, Iorfa, Ebanks-Landell, Batth, Doherty, Graham, Coady, Edwards, McDonald, Zyro, Le Fondre
Jordan Graham has registered an impressive 7 assists and 1 goal in his 9 starts for Wolves. The talented youngster is a major bright spark to come out of this season and Wolves will surely offer him a new deal sooner rather than later.
Richard Stearman will no doubt receive a fantastic reception from the home crowd as plays his first game at Molineux since his departure in the summer. Many have highlighted the decision to sell Stears as partly to blame for our mediocre performances for much of this season. The term “footballing reasons” as cause for his departure has become almost laughable as Wolves struggle to find an adequate replacement for the man who spent seven seasons at here. Stearman though has struggled to life at his new club keeping just two clean sheets in his time there, with Fulham sitting just three places away from the relegation zone.
Jamie O’Hara will also be making a return to Molineux but will no doubt get a much more hostile reception.
Adam Le Fondre 5/1
Michal Zyro 11/2
Bright Enobakhare 6/1
Ross McCormack 11/2
Moussa Dembele 13/2
Alexander Kacaniklic 11/1