Five key quotes from Nuno Espirito Santo's ahead of Black Country Derby
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12: Nuno Espirito Santo, Manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers shakes hands with referee Martin Atkinson following the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton at Molineux on January 12, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England. Sporting stadiums around England remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Wolverhampton Wanderers host struggling West Bromwich Albion in the first Black Country Derby in nearly nine years.

Wolves are undergoing a little bit of bad form after failing to pick up three points in the last five games which has seen them slump down to 14th in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, after 17 games West Brom have only managed to win once leaving them in 19th position, six points away from moving out of the relegation places.

On his first Black Country derby

This encounter will be Nuno Espirito Santo's first experience of a Black Country Derby and when speaking ahead of the prospect, the Wolves boss admitted that he understands what this kind of game means to the fans.

"We have a lot of players who have been here for four seasons now and every day, before the pandemic, when they went on the streets, all the fans talk about is the rivalry with West Brom, so we are aware.

"I am aware of what it means to our fans, but we do not have them. This is one of the things that’s changed dramatically. 

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"It is not only about the stadium and atmosphere, when you arrive at the stadium you do not see fans, after the game, away in the hotel, this is what I miss."

Santo continued: "We know they (the fans) are going to be at home and promise them that we’re going to do whatever we can to make a good game, be competitive and bring a big happiness because we know what it means.

"It is a local derby, since we’ve been here, we’ve always been in different divisions, and it will be the first time to compete against West Brom."

On team decisions

When commenting on who will be available for tomorrow's clash, Nuno revealed that Adama Traore and Willy Boly could make their returns.

"We have to assess. We have Adama and Boly coming and joining – let’s see how they are tomorrow.

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"It is about trying to make the right decisions, assessing with the doctor and themselves. We still have Daniel [Podence] out, so we have to work do before preparing for tomorrow.

"We still have Jonny, Podence, Marcal and Raul [unavailable]. Boly is joining, that is the good thing.”

On West Brom

When speaking on the challenge that Wolves face ahead of them, Santo said that he expects tomorrow to be a very tough task.

"They have a good squad, a very good manager, very experienced, so we expect a very tough match. 

"You cannot predict how the game is going to be, it’s going to be a new game, it’s up to us to try and be stronger.

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"I don’t know him [Sam Allardyce] personally. Unfortunately, tomorrow, with all the protocols, I can’t even shake his hand. I cannot invite him to our office to have a proper chat before and after the game, but it will be the first time we’ve been together.

He added: "We have been analysing all of the matches of West Brom under Sam Allardyce. We know what we can expect, but realise each game is a new situation and this is what we have to be ready for. We cannot predict that it’s going to be the same.”

On defensive improvements

Following the last couple of results, Santo admitted that his side have to be more compact and solid.

"We realise that we are playing good, having good moments of football, and we’ve been making mistakes that have been penalised. 

"If I look at all the recent matches, I think we performed well, played good games and made big mistakes, especially in defence.

"Our priority has to be simple – let’s be compact, let’s be solid because it always starts with a clean sheet. From there, I think we can grow and take the positives on all the aspects of the game.

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"But first of all, we have to go back to our main foundation – a clean sheet."

Santo continued: "It’s not only the defensive part, but the offensive part. We are different, we are not the same, so everything will be different.

"Finding this balance of youth and experience, this is what we are looking for and want to put it together tomorrow.”

On dealing with injuries

After having played 18 league games, it is fair to say that the Wanderers have been unlucky with injuries so far with as an instance Raul Jimenez being a current long term absentee.

When commenting on adjusting to the current injuries that they have in their ranks Santo said that despite it being difficult, he trusts the players that he has available.

"We do not hide. We know the loss of Raul is terrible, the injury that he had has had a big impact on us. There’s no doubt Raul is a special player; he’s been with us so many years and given so many things.

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"If we are not the same, we have to find different solutions with different players. 

"We are aware of the situation, of what happened to us. We had a lot of a player, and still have a lot of important players out, but we trust what we have."

The Portuguese boss continued: "We trust the young players to play, we try to engage them, and we know they’re important to us. 

"Saying that we concede because we don’t have A, B or C is not the solution, to improve E & F when they play – this is how we think.”