Wolverhampton Wanderers handed multiple injury blows ahead of Arsenal game

Head coach Gary O’Neil reveals that Wolverhampton Wanderers have been handed multiple injury blows ahead of Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Arsenal.

Wolverhampton Wanderers have been handed several injury blows ahead of Saturday’s fixture against Arsenal in the Premier League.

Gary O’Neil‘s side head into the meeting with the Gunners having failed to win any of their last five fixtures in all competitions.

That has largely been down to fitness issues in attack, with Pedro Neto, Matheus Cunha and Hwang Hee-chan all spending time out of the team either at the same time or over separate periods.

Cunha and Hwang have made welcome returns in recent weeks, the former making three appearances since the start of the month and Hwang featuring off the substitutes’ bench versus Nottingham Forest last weekend after a near two-month absence.

However, both players have been named in a lengthy fitness update provided by O’Neil at Friday’s press conference.

Four players definitely missing for Wolves

West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen in action with Wolverhampton Wanderers' Craig Dawson on December 17, 2023© Reuters

A positive for Wolves is that Hwang is available, yet O’Neil has revealed that the South Korea international will only play a maximum of 45 minutes.

On the negative side, though, O’Neil said that Cunha, Craig Dawson, Jean-Ricner Bellegarde and Noha Lemina would all not be involved.

Speaking to reporters, as quoted by the Express & Star, O’Neil said on Cunha: “He received a kick on his calf during the Nottingham Forest game and has done a little bit of damage to the muscle from the impact.

“It’s fairly rare, you don’t see too many of those. He won’t be available for the weekend.”

Semedo has also suffered ‘an overload to his calf’, while Dawson has had an operation on a groin injury that has kept him sidelined since the beginning of March, even though he featured as an unused substitute last week.

Jean Ricner-Bellegarde has been absent for a similar timeframe with a knee injury and is expected to miss the upcoming fixtures.

Rayan Ait-Nouri is another player who has recently suffered a calf issue, but the Algeria international may be in line to be selected among the replacements.

Nathan Fraser scores for Wolverhampton Wanderers against Brentford in the FA Cup on January 16, 2024.© Reuters

How could Wolves line up against Arsenal?

Wolves are certain to make at least two changes with Semedo and Cunha having both started against Forest at the City Ground last weekend.

Matt Doherty appears likely to switch from left wing-back to the right to deputise for Semedo, while Nathan Fraser is expected to get the nod in attack.

That is a consequence of Hwang being limited to 45 minutes and it is more realistic to expect him to feature in the second half than the opening whistle.

Hugo Bueno should feature at left wing-back, with the remainder of the team potentially remaining the same.

However, Wolves face the prospect of having to name an extremely inexperienced substitutes’ bench, with there being the possibility of Tawanda Chirewa, who has just 35 minutes of Premier League football to his name, being the fourth most experienced outfield player kept in reserve behind Hwang, Ait-Nouri and Boubacar Traore.

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