Under 23s

Collins | On Burnley point, unplayable conditions and Jordao’s fitness

5 min read

Although Wolves under-23s grew into the game throughout their 1-1 draw with Burnley, head coach James Collins admits his players showed signs of naivety, despite starting with an experienced line-up at Aggborough.

With many of his squad having played 120 minutes in the FA Youth Cup victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday, Collins turned to returning loan players and first-team squad members to fill his 11 on Monday evening, as Bruno Jordao’s goal earned Wolves a point. But Collins said he was expecting the early rustiness from his players as many of them had not played a lot of football in the past few weeks, and needed time to grow into the game.

On taking a point

“We got better as the game went on. I thought we started the game like we hadn’t had a game for a month. We were trying to play too much out from the back, which we encourage the players to do, but against the Burnley press, it would’ve been wise to go over it earlier.

“But we warmed into the game, and then we gave away a couple of naïve things to concede the goal. We gave the ball away high up the pitch when we had good possession and we should have cleared the ball much easier than we did, and they nicked it.

“When you’re 1-0 down against Burnley, it’s hard, because they’re hard to beat, they compete and they run and they hassle you, but I thought we got right on top in the second-half, should’ve scored, and we had a great chance to score with Hugo [Bueno].

“It was great to see him in there because that’s what we’ve been encouraging him to do, and maybe that was our moment and the keeper made a couple of good saves. Maybe the one he should’ve saved, he let in, when Bruno scored, which was great. Then I thought we might have gone on to win the game, until the fog set in.”

On the foggy conditions

“With 20 minutes to go, it was fine, and it suddenly came down with 15 minutes to go. Every felt that if there was an hour left, the referee would have called it a lot earlier.

“But I think they felt with seven or eight minutes to go that it was worth trying to get through it and hoping it would lift a little bit. But it seemed to get thicker and thicker, and the last five minutes was a little bit of a farce really, but everybody felt that they wanted to get through it because they’d played 85 minutes at that point.

“The ref came over at 88 asking if we wanted to call it, and we thought that if we call it now, the Premier League might say we have to start all over again, so I think it was right just to get through the last two minutes and call it a draw.”

On Jordao’s professionalism

“What we say to him in there is that nobody wants to be in the under-23s, in that they’re not aspiring to be under-23 players, they’re aspiring to be first-team players. First-team players either here or somewhere else.

“What I would say about Bruno, Ki [Hoever], or even Luke [Cundle], who’s one of ours but he’s been up with the first-team, when they come back, they always behave properly, they always set a good example for the other players and they always certainly work hard.

“Which is why they’re good professional and why they have got to where they have. I thought all three or four performances he’s had for us have been good and I hope we’ve helped him with his fitness, and it’s been good for both parties.”

On starting with an experienced line-up

“I would say don’t be kidded by this, but the Youth Cup game was Saturday afternoon and it went to 120 minutes, and our policy is to get the young ones in and play with as many young players as we can, and get the older ones either in the first-team or out on loan.

“Today, we felt because the lads have had 120 minutes with the youth team, we tried to leave them all out. We had to use Dexter for 45, he was the only one, but we were reluctant to even do that, so today was an anomaly to what we’ll see next week and the week after.

“But it was nice to have the senior players with us and good to see them play because there’s a lot for us to learn.”


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