MX23RW : Wednesday, September 23 03:20:02| >> :120:51292:51292:
Jul 25, 2019 at 7.45pm UK at Molineux
Attendance: 29,708
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Nuno has "a lot of pride" ahead of Wolves' first European campaign in 39 years

Nuno has
© Reuters
Wolves return to European competition for the first time in 39 years on Thursday.

Boss Nuno Espirito Santo has revealed his pride ahead of Wolves’ European return.

They host Crusaders at Molineux on Thursday in the Europa League second round qualifying – the first time in 39 years the club have played in European competition.

Nuno has taken Wolves from the Sky Bet Championship to Europe in two years after winning the second tier in 2018 and last season’s seventh placed Premier League finish.

Wolves last played in Europe when they beat PSV Eindhoven 1-0, losing 3-2 on aggregate, in October 1980 and Nuno is relishing their big night.

“I feel a lot of pride because I’m the manager of a fantastic group of players and of men who want to improve,” he said.

“It’s our third year together, we know each other very well and we expect things to improve.

“No matter who you play against it’s about how you prepare yourself to compete. It’s a big, big game for the club. It’s up to us to make something special so people are proud of us.

“It was a journey we started two years ago, I remember, we were clear. We tried to build a team, a strong team which could play and compete in every game. This is our philosophy.”

Raul Jimenez and Romain Saiss are unlikely to feature at Molineux in their graded comeback.

Striker Jimenez and midfielder Saiss are back in training after returning on Monday following their international duties.

Jimenez won the Gold Cup with Mexico while Saiss helped Morocco to the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations.

“They haven’t had the same period of rest as the others and we have to manage them but they are ready in case we decide. They are fit and healthy,” said Nuno.

Belfast-based Crusaders finished fourth in the Danske Bank Premiership last season but reached the Europa League by winning the Irish Cup.

Nuno added: “Things are going well and we are inside what we expect. We are ready to do it.

“We go game-by-game, the next game is the Europa League qualifier and that’s the most important one.”

Matt Doherty remains sidelined with a knee injury he suffered earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Crusaders’ Rory Hale is eyeing another goalscoring outing at Molineux.

The 22-year-old has already netted at Wolves for Aston Villa’s Under-23s.

Crusaders are huge underdogs on Thursday but Hale is eager to repeat his scoring efforts.

“I’ve played at Molineux twice and won both games, 1-0 and 2-1,” the midfielder told the Belfast Telegraph.

“I managed to score a late winner in the 2-1 game with an 85th-minute penalty kick in March 2017, so if anyone wants any scoring tips there I’m ready to offer advice.

“Both games were with Aston Villa’s Under-23s against Wolves Under-23s.

“This is a whole different kettle of fish, a completely different atmosphere with the added significance of Wolves’ first European tie in nearly 40 years. Their fans will be up for it.”


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