Willy Boly’s freak injury before the game against Newcastle was a major cause for concern for Wolves fans. However, since the Frenchman’s absence, Leander Dendoncker has filled in admirably within the three man defence.
Is he now the answer at centre back? Or will Nuno return to the Boly-Coady-Bennett back three that worked so well for the first two years of his reign?
The Belgian has proved to be a useful contributor since his move from Anderlecht last summer. After initially playing alongside Neves and Moutinho in the midfield three, the recent injury to Boly saw him move back.
Dendoncker has now played at the back for the games against Newcastle, Arsenal, Bratislava and Villa. In all four, he has acquitted himself brilliantly. He looks solid in defence and confident on the ball- as you would expect for a midfielder by trade.
Since Boly’s injury, Nuno has reverted to the formation which proved so successful for us in the Championship. This has allowed Neves to play higher up and have a greater impact on our attacking play.
Next to him, Moutinho has played with his usual tenacity and class. He has been crucial in helping us to win the midfield battle in games against Arsenal, Slovan and Villa.
This leaves Dendoncker as surplus to requirements in the midfield. If he is to play regularly for Wolves, surely it will have to come on the right of the back three?
What about Bennett?
Since Bennett went down injured in the early stages of Wolves’ draw with Southampton, the defender has struggled to receive significant playing time. The veteran centre back did play the whole 90 minutes in the Carabao Cup loss at Villa Park but only came on for the last five in the derby victory at Molineux.
Despite being a vital member of the backline for the past two years, with Dendoncker asserting himself as the answer at centre back, Bennett may be struggling for a place in the team. On the other hand, Nuno now has options.
With Wolves due to be playing a frankly ridiculous number of matches this season, rotation will be key. We now have a number of players who have proved to be extremely versatile. Dendoncker, Saiss and Traore have proved to be excellent filling in wherever they are needed.
Playing both domestically and in the Europa League will require Wolves to play in different formations and styles. So whilst Dendoncker may be the answer at centre back, Nuno will likely also deploy the Belgian elsewhere.
With his intelligence, quality on the ball, and defensive instincts, I’m sure Dendoncker will continue to be a major part of Wolves’ success this year.