With the new season of the English Football League (EFL) set to kick off on Friday, it is a welcome reminder to Wolverhampton Wanderers fans that their team no longer compete in it.
That being said, the EFL has many former Wolves players and loanees.
Many of those are academy graduates who failed to break through at Wolves. Despite this, they have established stellar careers further down the footballing pyramid.
Below is a starting XI of some of those players who have now left the club.
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Harry Burgoyne (Shrewsbury Town, League One)
The Wolves academy has an excellent reputation with goalkeepers. Matt Murray, Wayne Hennessey and Carl Ikeme all had brilliant spells at the club after emerging through the youth ranks. Burgoyne looked to be another, after an excellent FA Cup display in 2017 helped Wolves knock out Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
However once Nuno Espirito Santo arrived, Burgoyne found chances hard to come by. After loan spells at Plymouth Argyle and Falkirk the goalie found a home at nearby Shrewsbury. This season he will be competing for their number one jersey.
Right wing-back – Elliot Bennett (Shrewsbury Town, League One)
Another Salop, Bennett arrives at Shrewsbury Town on a free transfer after an excellent five-year spell at Blackburn Rovers. During this period, Bennett captained the side.
Bennett departed the academy when Wolves achieved promotion to the top-flight in 2009, alongside his brother Kyle. Although he never tasted Premier League football with Wolves he did with Norwich City under Paul Lambert.
Right centre-back – Michael Ihiekwe (Rotherham United, League One)
Following his release by Wolves in 2014, Ihiekwe returned to his native Merseyside for a three-year stint with Tranmere Rovers.
Since then, he has found greater success at the Millers. The centre-back played 42 times in the Championship last season as Rotherham narrowly missed out on survival.
Centre-back – Danny Batth (Stoke City, Championship)
A huge player in Wolves’ recent history. Fans should not forget the key role Danny Batth played in the last two promotion campaigns. Batth was a ‘wonderful ambassador’ for the club, getting involved in various community projects.
Despite the high hopes, Batth was not a regular under Nuno. In 2018 the club received a hefty £5m offer from Stoke City where has remained since.
Left centre-back – Dominic Iorfa (Sheffield Wednesday, League One)
Emerging as an unorthodox rampaging right-back in the Championship, Iorfa won plenty of admirers. His exploits led to him winning the league’s young player of the month award and Premier League admirers.
Sadly the momentum did not last. Since establishing himself as a centre-back Iorfa has spent two solid campaigns at Wednesday.
Left wing-back – Scott Malone (Millwall, Championship)
A former England U19 international, Malone spent four years on Wolves’ books before leaving in 2012. He linked up with Bournemouth, then in League One before establishing himself as one of the best left backs in the Championship.
Excellent spells at Millwall, Cardiff City and Fulham led to a season in the Premier League with Huddersfield Town in 2017. He helped the club remain in the top-tier before returning to the Championship where he has stayed since.
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Centre midfield – Sammy Morsy (Middlesbrough, Championship)
The only player on this list who is technically not a graduate, Morsy was released by Wolves in 2008 aged 16. Since then, he has established himself as a Championship midfielder known for his ‘tenacity’.
The Egyptian also featured at the 2018 World Cup in Russia for his country, playing alongside Liverpool’s Mo Salah.
Centre midfield – David Davis (Shrewsbury Town, League One)
The third and final Shrewsbury player in this team. Davis was a rare bright light in Wolves’ double relegation between 2012 and 2013. However, Davis struggled to adapt to Kenny Jackett’s methods and was sold to Birmingham City after one season.
Following a steady six years with the Blues in the Championship, Davis now finds himself in an advanced role in the Salops’ midfield. He recently extended his contract with the side.
Centre attacking midfield – Bright Enobakhare (Coventry City, Championship)
Maybe the most exciting player in this XI. Enobakhare wowed Wolves supporters with his raw skill and power in the U23s. Winning the trust of Nuno Espirito Santo, he played a bit-part role helping the side achieve their last promotion in 2018.
Off-the-field issues hampered his time with the club leading to spells in Greece and India. Enobakhare might settle at Coventry City having signed this summer, a place where he enjoyed a loan spell in 2019.
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Sam Winnall (Oxford United, League One)
Winnall only made a League Cup appearance for Wolves. However, he left the club to rue his exit in 2013 after he fired both Scunthorpe United and Barnsley to promotions.
He then endured a less-than successful three-year stint at Wednesday in the Championship. He joined Oxford United in 2020, helping the club reach the League One play-offs in May.
Niall Ennis (Plymouth Argyle, League One)
A huge prospect in the Wolves academy. Ennis’ tenure at Wolves was sadly cut-short due to knee injuries when he was on the verge of playing for the first team.
Despite this, he completed his boyhood dream under Nuno playing in the FA Cup in 2019. Since then, he has enjoyed spells at Doncaster Rovers and Plymouth Argyle in League One. In his two full campaigns with the sides, Ennis scored six goals for each of them.