O’Neil | ‘Let’s enjoy the moment we’re in’

Although disappointed by a fresh dose of bad look, having lost more key members of his squad to injury, Gary O’Neil is remaining positive ahead of tomorrow’s Arsenal clash.

The Old Gold have six games remaining, but the next one up they’ll do without Nelson Semedo and Matheus Cunha, along with possibly more. The head coach’s options are limited, but Wolves with sitting comfortably in mid-table, and welcoming the title-chasing Gunners to Molineux this week, he’s keen to enjoy the challenge it brings.

On new injury concerns

“Pedro’s doing well. He’s six weeks post-hamstring and is on the grass, going through stuff with the fitness team. If everything goes well, he should have a part to play between now and the end of the season. Rayan could be available for the bench. He went back outside today and is feeling good. He wouldn’t be able to play very long but may be available for the matchday squad.

“Nelson Semedo will be out. Matheus Cunha will be out. Hee Chan can only do 45 minutes tops. We need to manage the group with the three-game week. Bellegarde is still out. Daws had his operation. For the starting eleven I’ve got ten senior players who can last the match.

“It’s probably the worst situation we’ve been in, but the positives to come from that are that there’s loads of young players involved tomorrow, maybe a debut or two from the start for some of the younger lads, and the fact we’re on 43 points already, we’re not on 27 fighting for our lives.”

On coping without new absentees 

“The injuries we’ve picked up this week are unfortunate. Matheus Cunha received a kick on his calf during the Nottingham Forest game and has done a bit of damage to the muscle from the impact. Fairly rare, you don’t see too many of those, so he won’t be available for the weekend. Semedo came off last weekend and has an overload issue in the muscle around the calf. It’s not serious, but we’re waiting for it to settle down.

“We’ve also got two other games this week to manage. Pablo had a tight groin after Nottingham Forest. He’s fine and managed to train all week, but trying to get him through all three games would be difficult. Mario’s showed some signs of tiredness, so getting him through all three would be difficult. We’re going to need to be creative tomorrow and throughout the week to try and give the lads the best chance of being successful across the three games.”

On still looking forward to Saturday

“For me to ask anything of the supporters seems unfair with what they’ve given us already, but we’re really going to need them this week, with three home games and not many players available. They’re understanding of the situation, trying to help the lads, will be really important to us.

“I am really positive about the situation. It’s a tough situation. If you ask me, the Wolves fans, the playing group, we’d have loved to have a fully-fit squad available to us for the last few games and next few games, and to be chasing down the teams above us, but it hasn’t gone that way. There’s still loads of positives to take from it, the young lads being around it, and learning things for next season. There’s a lot of stuff we can do and we’re still aiming to beat another team in the top six.”

On focus being on finishing strong

“We’re focused on the six games. We want to finish as high as we can. We’ve worked extremely hard to get ourselves in a decent position. If I go up to the day I was driving up, four days before the Manchester United away game, if you’d have said we’d have six games left and be mathematically safe, I’d have definitely taken that. But once you get there, you always want to strive for more. That’s the aim, to keep pushing.

“There’s plenty of time in the summer to work out ins and outs, with loan players coming back, having a look at what we can do better to have a squad. But let’s enjoy the moment we’re in, we’re playing Arsenal tomorrow, Bournemouth and Luton at home. It’s going to be an incredible crowd at Molineux, so it’s an exciting week for everybody. With very day which ticks by, hopefully the injured lads are closer to coming back to help us.”