Wolverhampton Wanderers full-back Rayan Ait-Nouri is heading into a crunch period at Molineux.
The French youngster has made a bright start to life in the Black Country, following his loan move from Angers last summer.
The 19-year-old has shown a great aptitude for getting forwards, and seems pretty at home operating as a left wing-back, a position which demands players to provide attacking support.
He has also demonstrated what fantastic feet his has.
That all said, some have questioned Ait-Nouri’s defensive capabilities, as has been the case with Nelson Semedo on the opposite side.
The starlet can sometimes ball-watch and make rash decisions – the penalty concession against Leicester City back in November springing to mind – but these things are commonplace in the games of lots of young full-backs.
Nuno Espirito Santo has stated that summer signing Fernando Marcal isn’t due back any time particularly soon after undergoing a small surgery on his groin.
He said (Wolves official): “First, he [Marcal] has to be free of pain, then we will start integrating and getting his fitness levels again. There will be some more weeks in front of him yet.”
With Jonny Castro Otto still working his way back to full fitness, it’s a golden opportunity for Ait-Nouri to prove some of the doubters wrong and really nail down his place in the starting XI.
A clear path for Ait-Nouri
With Marcal on the sidelines for a few more weeks yet, it really is crunch time for Ait-Nouri.
The path is currently clear for him and he has to make it count.
The £37,000-a-week talent (Spotrac) has shown he has fantastic ability on the ball, it’s just about getting a bit more consistent now and strengthening the defensive side of his game.
He’ll be getting valuable Premier League minutes to help him do that, and hopefully he can make the absolute most of his time in the starting XI – he’ll need to if he’s to convince the club to exercise their £20 million option to buy (Daily Mail).