Nuno wants his players to compete when they take on derby rivals Villa

Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo has urged his players to “prepare to compete” ahead of the first Premier League west midlands derby for almost four years.

Wolves welcome Aston Villa to Molineux on Sunday looking to continue their run of Premier League form as they are unbeaten in their last six matches. It was 1974 the club last enjoyed seven without defeat in the top-flight.

While Thursday’s last-gasp Europa League win over Slovan Bratislava has provided the perfect tonic ahead of the clash with Villa, Nuno knows it counts for nothing.

“We’ve got to focus on Sunday,” Nuno told the Wolves website.

“We did very well on Thursday night, it was a very important night for everybody, and I think Molineux enjoys European football.

“We are all delighted, we embraced the challenge and the next challenge is Sunday – and it’s a big one.

“Our mentality doesn’t change. It’s not about the momentum, it’s about preparing to compete. We prepare to compete.”

That is particularly critical against Villa as Wolves’ record in the Premier League this season following a Thursday night of European action has seen them draw five and lose one of seven matches, with their only win being a stunning victory at Manchester City.

“There are a lot of things (the players need to improve),” added Nuno.

“On Thursday, we managed the game better, the distances of the players, because we had a lot of possession, so the impact is totally different.

“This is the growing process that we want, so we have to improve, we have to work a lot, and it’s about growing during the competition.

“Each moment that we compete is a moment that we try new things, new solutions, new lines, new processes. It’s growing with the competition. It’s very good and it’s what the team needs – to compete.”

Nuno is now anticipating what he has described as “a big game” with Villa, as two west midlands sides go head-to-head in the top flight for the first time since the visitors played out a goalless draw with West Brom in early 2016.

“Now it’s going to be about recovery and working on Villa, for what is going to be a big game here at Molineux, a big derby, and we’re going to be ready for it,” insisted Nuno.

“We have played them already in the Championship, we know what it is like in a derby, we know what it means.

“For the locality, it’s fantastic because what the fans enjoy is good football. Villa are a good team, we are a good team and we’re going to play good, so it’s going to be a good game.”

Midfielders Morgan Gibbs-White and Roman Saiss are doubts with a back injury and a knock respectively, but Ryan Bennett could start after the defender returned from a groin injury with a late substitute appearance against Slovan.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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