Joe Gallen believes Wolves midfield trio performed impressively in helping Wolves draw at table-topping Burnley – and has challenged all three to continue to improve.
George Saville, Conor Coady and Jack Price produced accomplished displays against more experienced opponents in the 1-1 draw at Turf Moor, and provided plenty of food for thought for Head Coach Kenny Jackett and his staff.
Price has been restored to the starting line-up for the last two games, and has responded with man-of-the-match performances.
“I thought the formation really suits him and he played very well,” said assistant head coach Gallen.
“He’s a pretty consistent performer, this formation does suit him where he’s away from the hustle and bustle of the midfielders.
“I think Jack would be the first to say that in terms of the Conor and George’s position, those guys are required to get into the box, come up with shots, etc.
“Jack could do that – he had a shot on Saturday, although it was one of his first for a long time!
“If he’s going to play that role, he’s got to come up with a longer pass, he’s still got to do his defensive work, and he’s got to come up with the odd goal and longer shot now and again, because it does fall that way for a number four position.
“But there’s no reason why he can’t do that.
“If we don’t play this formation, having Jack running on to balls and off flicks from Zyro, it’s probably not his game.
“So we’re just trying to find the right formation and the right personnel around where Jack can play to his potential.
“But definitely the centre halves would love having Jack there, for his brain, he senses danger, he’s there before the ball arrives, he’s intercepting.
“And then technically his first pass out is good.
“Can he do it against Ipswich? That’s the thing, he’s got to do it again.”
Saville and Coady provided plenty of energy getting forward and back in Saturday’s game, and Gallen says the challenge for those two is to add goals to their other abilities.
“When we’re doing finishing work after training they’re the first to come over and practice,” says Gallen.
“And they’re pretty good at it.
“But putting it into a game is a different thing. Obviously we know Conor scored a spectacular goal for Huddersfield against us (last season) so we’re waiting for him to do the same for us!
“Sometimes with goalscoring you can try too hard as well, and when you try too hard you don’t score, believe it or not.
“So I think they’ve just got to let it happen naturally.
“They certainly have the legs to make the box, that’s the key thing.
“We’ve got some quick players in the wide areas and they’ve got to run just as quick as they do to make sure they’re in the box at the same time as the cross.
“Conor and George have got the legs to do it, the personality to do it and the hunger to do it, but we will need some more goals from the number eights.”
Gallen meanwhile says that challenge to keep improving applies to all of Wolves’ emerging players, so that the standards set against Burnley become more like the norm rather than the exception.
“The potential is there,” says Gallen.
“I’m sure the fans are maybe sick of hearing about it, but I would say this – there is a future for a lot of these younger players.
“If you look at the Burnley game in particular, it’s the first time for a while I’ve thought, here we go, there’s a future here, there’s a future in these lads – and a good future too.
“Unfortunately there have been so many injuries it’s disrupted the season, and there have been some other reasons too, but there’s a positive outlook.
“If you look at Burnley’s team, they’re probably what I’d call a ‘now’ team; in two or three years time I’d wonder where most of those players would be.
“But if you look at our team, in two or three years time our lads will be a lot better.
“They’ll still be around, they’ll be playing for someone, hopefully for Wolves, and the improvement will be vast.
“Hopefully Burnley is not a one-off - we’ve got to look like that now for the rest of the season. That’s the aim.
“As Danny Batth said, standards have been set.
“It looked like for one of the first times the confidence and spirit collided with the quality that we know we’ve got.”