Three players to keep an eye on in Wolves' pre-season
Fabio Silva is enjoying his first pre-season with Wolves.  (Photo by Jack Thomas - WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images).

Wolves will continue their new surge under Bruno Lage this evening when they face Real Betis in Spain in their second pre-season fixture.

Their summer schedule kicked off last weekend with a narrow 1-0 defeat to League One side Crewe Alexandra, with Lage's style of play showing early signs of rubbing off on the squad.

Lining up in a 4-4-2 with aggressive pressing and an extremely high line winning the ball back, it will take time for the Wanderers players to adapt to the changes after four years of counter-attacking football from Nuno Espirito Santo.

Saturday hands Wolves a chance against a competitive side and an opportunity for the style of play to become more familiar.

Ahead of the fixture with Manuel Pellegrini's men, VAVEL identifies three players in black and gold who will be keen to impress.

Rayan Ait-Nouri

Prodimatly utilised as a wing-back in a back five last season, Ait-Nouri was allowed more freedom in Crewe last week as the left midfielder in a midfield four.

It's unlikely that's the position he will hold going forward, with Pedro Neto, Adama Traore and Daniel Podence all yet to return, but the Frenchman remains vital in Lage's plans.

Playing with an aggressive back four and high line allows Ait-Nouri to venture forward and support the attacks with overlapping runs. With Jonny sidelined, Ait-Nouri has a chance to cement himself in the starting line-up going forward.

In his first season at Molineux, Ait-Nouri scored and assisted one goal, with his defensive ability under scrutiny in large parts despite drastically improving as the season went on. It's easy to forget he has just turned 20.

Ait-Nouri's 2020/21 heatmap. Photo: SofaScore.
Ait-Nouri's 2020/21 heatmap. Photo: SofaScore.

Last season's stats demonstrate how effective the former-Angers wing-back can be for Lage. He averaged 25.7 (86%) accurate passes per game with 13.3 (87%) in his own half and 13 (74%) in the opposition half.

However, there is space for improvement, much of it. He only completed 48% of his dribbles per game and won only 3.8 (44%) of his duels. Betis have an abundance of talented players capable of playing on the right with Diego Lainez, Rodri Sanchez or Juanmi.

Wherever he is asked to play, Ait-Nouri's performances in the next four friendlies will be his chance to cement a place in the starting line-up at Leicester City on the opening day.

Fabio Silva

Teenager Fabio Silva turned into a fans favourite over the season for his energetic performances and his two goals against Black Country rivals West Bromwich Albion.

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After being chucked into the deep end head first following Raul Jimenez's horrific fractured skull incident in November, Silva made 32 Premier League appearances in a season that was meant to be an eased-in one.

Scoring four and contributing to three assists, Silva enters his second season in England with more confidence and ability than he did last year. He also will have a full pre-season behind him, as well as potentially having a strike partner in Lage's 4-4-2.

He partnered Jimenez at Crewe and the link-up play showed signs of flourishing in the 33 minutes they shared the pitch together with.

It isn't quite clear what formation Lage will opt for and how the former-FC Porto striker will be used. A possible experiment we could see is seeing Silva sit behind the lone striker- just as Joao Felix did at SL Benfica under Lage.

Silva has bulked up a little since the 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United on the final day of last season and this could fill Lage and Wolves with confidence as he was largely outfought in key duels last season.

Patrick Cutrone looks set to finally leave the club, leaving Wolves with the two strikers. Another must be brought in if the two up top is persisted but Silva will be eager to go into the league campaign with a couple of goals if he is to do better than last season.

On Saturday, Silva will face strong competition with former Barcelona man Marc Bartra and experience heads Sidnei and Victor Ruiz likely to be the men to stop him. 

Yerson Mosquera

Another young player at Wolves is Columbian Yerson Mosquera. Signed from Atletico Nacional in the summer, this is his first chance to show what he can do.

It is still unclear whether Mosquera will be part of the first team or join up with James Collins' team in the under-23s, but he has travelled to Marbella and could feature against the Spanish side.

He plays on the right in the back four and enjoys carrying the ball out of defence, linking play with the midfield. Last season, he made an average of 43.7% (85%) completed passes and won 74% of his aerial duels.

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With Conor Coady yet to return after making the European Championship final with England, Wolves have Willy Boly, Max Kilman and Christian Marques joining Mosquera as their centre-back options meaning the summer recruit is likely to get minutes into his tank.

The call for a new central defender has been clear last season and with the African Cup of Nations in January, Wolves will lose Boly if he is called up to the Ivory Coast squad.

Mosquera has a chance to impress and maybe show he is capable of being part of Lage's side this season, whether they line-up in a back three or a back four.

Either Loren Moron or Borja Iglesias could lead the line for Betis, giving the young defender a tough challenge of containing experienced heads- something he will need for the Premier League.