Alex Neil raves over Wolves loanee Ki-Jana Hoever and defends star after criticism last year
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Alex Neil raves over Wolves loanee Ki-Jana Hoever and defends star after criticism last year

Stoke City manager Alex Neil has delivered a rave review of Wolves defender Ki-Jana Hoever, who has had a great start on loan at the Bet365 Stadium.

The Dutch full-back has really hit the ground running since returning to England, after a disappointing spell with PSV Eindhoven.

Hoever didn’t get the minutes he or Wolves officials had hoped he would.

Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The decision was made in January to facilitate a fresh loan move. And he headed to Staffordshire, along with Wolves teammate Matija Sarkic.

And so far, he’s done really well.

Hoever has made 10 appearances for the club up to now.

He’s been a part of some good results for the Potters, and he has recently discovered an eye for goal, scoring three goals in his last three games.

It’s quite the turnaround for Hoever, who last year came in for strong criticism from former Wolves manager Bruno Lage.

Lage blasted £13.5 million signing Hoever in his post-match press conference after a 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Hoever went off injured in the first-half, and Lage appeared to question his professionalism and suggested his preparation was not right.

Stoke manager Neil has referenced the comments made by Lage last year, and given a really nice verdict of Hoever.

Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

He said (Stoke Sentinel): “People in football have got really short memories. I remember when we signed Ki-Jana one of the journalists asked me if he was a problem player because I think Bruno Lage had come out and spoken about him and he’d been tagged as if he was a problem lad.

“Ki-Jana is one of the most polite, nicest, hardest-working kids that you’ll come across and I’m so delighted for him that he’s doing well and showing everybody what he’s capable of doing.

“I saw his interview the other day when he spoke about someone believing in him and putting trust in him and I think, for him, he feels as if that’s the first time that’s happened.

“But that’s not been based on nothing. He’s gained that trust based on merit. He’s trained extremely hard, he’s performed extremely well in the games and I think he’s got huge scope going forwards.

“In that regard, he’s been great for us.”

Ki-Jana Hoever is in a great moment and must keep working hard, as Alex Neil sings Wolves star’s praises

It is great to hear such a positive assessment of Hoever from Neil.

One year ago, he was on the receiving end of a pretty brutal verbal takedown from Lage.

Some felt the Portuguese was wrong for saying what he said against a young player in public.

No one really knows how things had been behind the scenes. But it was definitely a shock to hear Lage talk like that.

Photo by Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images

Since then, Hoever probably has had that stick to him, which can’t have been nice.

But these comments from Neil will hopefully help people to see him a different light. In an ideal world, Hoever will keep performing at a high level until the end of the season.

Maybe there will be a chance of redemption back at Molineux under Julen Lopetegui.