O'Neil | 'We're patched up but the lads gave everything'

Gary O’Neil admits he is ‘desperate’ for his Wolves players to pick up a win after a patched-up Old Gold side fought hard to take a point from Nottingham Forest.

Matheus Cunha bagged a brace on his first start for two months either side of Forest finding the net twice, meaning O’Neil’s men had to settle for another point to add to their tally, which extended their winless run to four top flight matches.

But the head coach has been proud of his team and the way they are performing given the injuries which have limited his options in the team, as Wolves undergo a spell he described as the ‘toughest’ he’s ever faced.

On a point at Forest

“It was a good game, a hard-fought game, and you could see Forest were in a stronger moment than us at the moment with the way they finished the game, but a draw is probably a fair result. I think Forest will be disappointed not to win it, especially at home with some of the late territory that they had, without really testing Sa too much.

“The two goals that we gave away are really disappointing, I know Sa will be disappointed with the first one because it was a soft header which goes fairly near the middle of the goal although the bounced deceived him a bit, and that sort of goal shouldn’t be conceded in a Premier League game. Then the second goal came out of nothing, a long ball and we don’t react well to the turnover from the tackle with the ball bobbling around.

“But we are very much patched up and that group at the end, if you look at where we end up with young players who haven’t had a professional loan yet, Bouba Traore playing as a right-back, Channy [Hwang] having to play in a few different positions having only just come back – we were really patched up but the lads gave absolutely everything, worked hard and had some decent moments in the game that gives us another point to add to the tally.”

On Cunha’s opening goal

“It was a really good run and finish from him. I don’t like him much playing in the position that we played him today, and he doesn’t like it much either, but he had to play as a nine today and you could see he comes down a lot and he drifts and he’s not naturally in the nine position often.

“We’re keen to get him back in his best spot which is where his goal came from, on that left side. But we’re delighted with the set-play goal because we’ve worked hard on those, a free header from Max [Kilman] at the back and some good work from the coaching team to get us that one.

“It could have gone either way. They had more shots, we had more control, and more possession, and we’re hoping to get better than that, but it was the best we could offer, although it’s another good point on the road.

On thinking Wolves’ second would be disallowed

“Always. As soon as the ball goes in the goal, there’s no emotion from me. I just turn to the bench and ask if we can check it. But it was all clear and it was all good.”

On Ait-Nouri’s absence

“It was a late call because he was doing well this week and up until yesterday we thought he would be available to start, but then he had a small issue with his fitness test with the medical team, so Doc came in for him, did a good job on that left side, because you know what you’re going to get from Doc, but it is another key player missing.

“Cunha was on limited minutes and I probably pushed him five or six minutes past what he should have been on today, Channy on very limited minutes and Daws is just trying to get through the last two games off the bench for us, but he’ll probably have groin surgery – or some sort of procedure to try and help him – at some point this week as he’s going through some pain at the moment.

“Nelson [Semedo] was exhausted and both hamstrings tightened up, Pablo [Sarabia] looked tired at the end, so it’s a really patched up group that gave absolutely everything, showed a great mentality, but we can improve on that. But where we are the moment, it’s another point to the tally, away from home, which takes us to 43, which is a good tally.”

On Dawson’s groin injury

“He’s been training through some pain the last few weeks. It’s not definite but he’ll see some people this week. He’s put himself forward to sit on the bench and try to help, so we could use him for the last 10 minutes if we needed to defend the goal and get an extra body on.

“But he’s probably going to need some help because he’s got some pain. Unless it improves this week, he’ll have something done.

On trying to get the squad through games

“It’s the toughest spot I’ve ever been in trying to piece everything together, trying to make substitutions while trying to get Hee Chan on with Cunha to get Cunha back in his usual spot, but then you know you’ve only got 10 minutes with them together.

“If I take Joao [Gomes] off, I can’t get him back on, so there’s a lot to piece together which is why every point feels like a well-earned one. I know the group feel that way as well, so I’m desperate for them to get their next win because it’s been a while.

“I did speak about how big the Fulham win was and I’m not sure people believed me at the time, to beat a full-strength Fulham with a massively understrength Wolves was a massive result for us and today’s a good point.”