In Focus Preview: Wolves U23s

Thursday 13 September 2018 15:05

Fulham Under-23s welcome high-flying Wolverhampton Wanderers to Motspur Park on Friday night. The Young Whites will be looking to put the Checkatrade Trophy disappointment behind them as they entertain the league leaders who will provide a stern test.

Wolves recently brushed aside Norwich City last time out, when a Benny Ashley-Seal hattrick sunk the Canaries on the way to a 3-1 away win.

We took a look at the tricky upcoming test from all angles.

View from the Gaffer:

Head Coach Mark Pembridge acknowledged the quality Wolves have, but has more of an eye on converting his team's chances.

“Over the past couple of weeks, we played Aston Villa when they were top, then Southampton when they were top, now Wolves and they’re top,” he told fulhamfc.com. “We’ve had a look at Wolves to see how they setup and they’re a good side.

“We have been very unlucky, we have played some excellent football, we keep plugging away with this young team and the wins will come.

“We haven’t really kept an eye on Ashley-Seal. We try to look at our individual progression to stop him having these sorts of chances. With what we have it could be enough to get us over the line with a result.

“We have been a bit naïve at times trying to play the perfect game and punished harshly for it. There have been chances created, and it’s about putting it in the back of the net. If we are conceding goals and not creating anything, I’d be worried, but we have our chances.

“It was a sloppy goal from our point of view against Southampton – we got back into it via a set-play and after that there was only one winner, we were excellent. They gave us a few problems early on but once we tweaked the team around we dealt with them well."

View from the player:

Jayden Harris will be hoping to extend his good form on Friday night, and the midfielder is upbeat about Fulham’s chances.

“The mood is okay, obviously it could be better as we haven’t won a game but we are working hard to try and change that.

“I think personally I’ve been doing well, I’ve had two goals which could have been three or four. But I am happy with the two goals I have this season and I’m sure I will improve on that throughout the season. There is more to come without a doubt.

“We prepare for Wolves the same as every game – we need to cut out the mistakes that have been happening and our football will shine.

“If we don’t give the other team the chances then it gives us the potential to create that many more – it’s about taking them from there.

“Against Villa, they only had one chance in each half and they scored both – whereas we had about four chances in each half and took one. We will get this right and hopefully the first win will be against Wolves.”.

View from the press:

Birmingham Live reporter Alex Dicken gave us an insight into our opponents.

What has been so impressive about Wolves’ start to the season?

“Wolves’ recruitment has been very impressive. A couple of new players arrived in the summer and Wolves' U23s seem a much stronger outfit for it. They've also adopted the same system as the first team, which is very important. Every player at the club is well-versed in Nuno Espirito Santo's 3-4-3 formation and it's reaping rewards across the age groups.” 

Who has been the form man to watch this year?

“There are a few contenders but the way Benny Ashley-Seal has stepped up in the last couple of months has been telling. He spent the summer with the first team and made his senior debut in the Carabao Cup win at Sheffield Wednesday recently. He's got bags of pace and has discovered a knack for finding the net.”

 Can this group of players repeat the feat of the likes of Morgan Gibbs-White in the first team?

“Wolves' U23s were a little hit and miss last season but their start to this campaign, and the strength of their squad, suggests they are the team to beat in Premier League 2 Division 2. Four players were recently called up to the first team squad to rub shoulders with the likes of Adama Traore and Helder Costa and more will follow. It's a very talented group that is now befitting of a Premier League club's second string.”

Why have Wolves U23s suddenly found their stride?

“There's been a slight restructure over the summer with popular youth supremo Scott Sellars stepping back and Rob Edwards returning to coach the team. Wolves are also signing better quality youngsters, with Paulo Alves and Sadou Diallo joining Edwards' group.”

Norwich were swept aside by Wolves last time, what was the biggest factor?

“A superb first-half hat-trick from Ashley-Seal shocked Norwich and allowed Wolves to coast to another three points. They seem to have a group of players capable of making it at Wolves, which is key.”

Fulhamfctv subscribers can watch a full stream of the clash with Wolves at Motspur Park this evening.