Bruno Lage has explained why he decided to bring Leander Dendoncker into the fold against Aston Villa for Wolves.

The Belgium international has started the season out of favour under Bruno Lage.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United - Premier League
Leander Dendoncker (Photo by Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

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The former Anderlecht man has only made five appearances in the Premier League so far, for a total of 226 minutes.

Lage has largely opted to use a partnership of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho.

Against Villa though, the 45-year-old threw something of a curveball.

Lage set up slightly differently, with Adama Traore and Hwang Hee-chan lining up as partners in attack.

Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Leander Dendoncker (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

He used a three-man midfield, with Dendoncker actually joining Neves and Moutinho, rather than replacing one of them.

On why he did this, Lage said (Express & Star): “I chose Leander because he’s a guy who can run and appear in the box. I didn’t want the strategy to give easy marking to strong guys like Mings.


“I wanted to put men on the back of the midfielders and at 2-0 they continued to press very well.”

With Jimenez named on the bench, it makes sense that Lage wanted some physicality and aerial presence.

Dendoncker needs more minutes

Dendoncker probably hasn’t had the start he would have wanted so far.

Belgium v Russia - UEFA Euro 2020: Group B
Leander Dendoncker (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

But as the season wears on, there will surely be more starting opportunities for the 26-year-old.

Joao Moutinho has highly impressive stamina and durability, but at 35 it may only be a matter of time before his levels begin to drop.

Dendoncker has done fairly well with what little time he has had on the pitch so far. It can’t be long before he sees much more involvement.

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