Julen Lopetegui says youngster Joe Hodge sets an example to his Wolves stars
Wolverhampton Wanderers U21 v Arsenal U21 - Premier League 2
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Julen Lopetegui says youngster Joe Hodge sets an example to his Wolves stars

Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui has lavished praise on Joe Hodge, stating he sets an example to other players in his first-team squad for how hard he works.

Hodge has not featured for a while now for Wolves.

His last appearance came against Liverpool in the FA Cup (replay) on January 17.

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Unfortunately for Hodge, competition for places in midfield became extremely tough from that point on.

Wanderers moved to bring in two new players for that position in January.

Mario Lemina joined from Nice, and Joao Gomes came in from Flamengo.

Both players have been a part of every squad since they arrived, with Lemina becoming one of the team’s key players.

It has meant Hodge has missed out on a few matchday squads lately.

While that will no doubt be frustrating, Lopetegui has really piled the praise on Hodge and remains a hige fan of his.

The Spaniard has gone as far as to say he even sets an example to more experienced players in his squad.

He said (Express & Star): “Hodge is a fantastic example for the rest of the players. He’s very young but he’s very brave and a hard worker.

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“He’s very humble and he’s going to improve a lot, for sure.

“It’s true that now he doesn’t have space (to play) in these matches. But you don’t know, we are going to have a lot of matches and he has to be ready.”

In addition to Lemina and Gomes, Lopetegui can call on Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Matheus Nunes.

Boubacar Traore is also about to return to action.

Futhermore, the likes of Pablo Sarabia, Matheus Cunha and Daniel Podence can operate centrally as ‘number 10s’.

Nice comments for Joe Hodge from Julen Lopetegui – he must be patient

It is nice of Lopetegui to say Hodge sets an example to other players.

That’s pretty high praise, and it’s clear he really does like him. Only recently, sporting director Matt Hobbs said that Hodge was a player who impressed Lopetegui since the first session he took.

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Hodge is just in an unfortunate situation right now.

He really caught the eye when he was playing. But the need for additions was clear, especially someone proven like Lemina.

His time will come. In the summer, Wolves could potentially lose up to three midfielders. Any of the Portuguese trio could all depart, so Hodge might have the chance to play more minutes next season.