Julen Lopetegui moved to praise Toti Gomes for the way he came into the team and performed against Nottingham Forest yesterday for Wolves.
The 24-year-old was something of a surprise selection at the City Ground.
He lined up at left-back, following Jonny Castro Otto’s red card against Leeds United.
He got the nod ahead of Rayan Ait-Nouri, who was completely left out of the matchday squad for the second game running.
Hugo Bueno was back on the bench after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Toti’s performance was always going to make for interesting viewing, given he had not had any Premier League minutes since the game against West Ham United back in January.
His last start in the competition came against Arsenal in Wolves’ last game before the World Cup.
Despite initially being asked to play in a position that isn’t his primary one, Toti gave a good account of himself at the City Ground.
He had a couple of shaky moments, which was to be expected. He finished the game with a yellow card following a challenge on the lively Brennan Johnson. But on the whole, Toti looked fairly solid, especially after he moved inside when Craig Dawson went off for Bueno.
And Lopetegui liked what he saw from the star.
He said (via Wolves official): “It’s not easy to stay without playing a lot of times and after be ready when the coach needs him, or the team needs him. He’s showed in two positions a good performance. When he was young, he played there [left-back] and we tried to work with him in training sessions.
“He, of course, has different characteristics of the rest of the full-back. Today I think it was a good thing to have this kind of player on the pitch and after he continued as a centre back.”
Toti Gomes was great against Forest and it’s good to see him get a chance for Wolves
It was a surprise to see him in the team, but Toti justified his selection yesterday.
Whenever he does come into the starting XI, he generally gives a good account of himself.
It’s good to see him be given chances as he is definitely a Premier League-quality player.
It’s just difficult for him because of the level of competition. His lack of experience at this level is probably the only thing that counts against him.
But he is certainly a fighter, and many would likely have no issue seeing him in the starting XI more often from now until the end of the season.