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Wolves midfielder Jean-Ricner Bellegarde completes a three-match ban but Tommy Doyle is back in contention after being ineligible to face parent club Manchester City last weekend. Santiago Bueno is nursing a tight hamstring, while Hugo Bueno is doubtful with a sore knee.
Aston Villa will assess Moussa Diaby and Boubacar Kamara, who both missed Thursday’s win versus Zrinjski Mostar. Jacob Ramsey has suffered a setback and is ruled out, along with Alex Moreno.
- O’Neil confirmed the team available would be similar to last weekend with the only concern being a tight hamstring for Hugo Bueno that will be assessed again tomorrow.
On the boost the squad got from beating Manchester City, he said: “To win a Premier League home game, first one for me as well, is obviously big. The group have been working extremely hard and we knew how tough the run of fixtures were at the start of the season. So to put two wins on the board and against the European champions was a big lift for everybody.”
Asked about Pedro Neto’s return to form and enjoyment playing under him, O’Neil commended his “commitment” and “work rate” and added: “I’m delighted for him. I’m pleased when anyone does well, but when someone as committed and enthusiastic as Pedro gets success you are really pleased for them. He’s been a huge positive since I’ve walked in.”
On VAR, O’Neil feels that there have been “more errors” this season than last and he hopes “they can get to a place with it where everyone understands it and can see what’s coming next.”
On offsides in particular, he added: “Some of the lines that are drawn, I’ve spoken to them about it and I’m not sure how accurate they are, so for me I think it needs improving.”
He praised Aston Villa boss Unai Emery for doing “incredibly well” since his arrival and said: “They have some fantastic players there, Ollie Watkins back in the England squad, Jacob Ramsey is a big threat, Diaby who they signed in the summer is big threat, so a good squad and it will be a good test for us.”
On the local derby atmosphere, he said: “The atmosphere in the home games has been really good in every game. Against Manchester City, I bumped into a few fans around the area and they were talking to me about it being one of the best they have seen at the stadium atmosphere-wise. It’s big for us, home form is going to be important for us.
Asked about the detailed game plans, he said: “It’s not something the group are used to, they’re more used to generic game plans and having to think on their feet so they are getting used to a different style – not saying it is any better than the old one but just a different style. They’re taking it all on board.”
MATCH STATS & FACTS
- Wolves are unbeaten in the last four meetings, winning three times.
- Aston Villa have lost five of their past six league matches at Molineux.
- Villa are two shy of becoming the fourth club to score 200 top-flight goals against Wolves, emulating Everton, Manchester City and Arsenal.
- Wolves are vying to win consecutive league fixtures for the first time since April.
- They have won five of their previous eight top-flight home matches (D1, L2), keeping a clean sheet in four of those wins.
- Wolves have failed to score in just one of 13 Premier League fixtures at Molineux in 2023 (D1, L4) – that was a 1-0 defeat in February versus a Bournemouth team then managed by Gary O’Neil.
- Hwang Hee-chan has scored five of Wolves’ last nine Premier League goals.
- Hwang can become the first player to net in five consecutive top-flight home games for Wolves since John Richards did so in six successive matches in 1973.
- Villa have taken 15 points from their opening seven matches – the only Premier League season they have started better was 1998-99, with 17 points.
- Unai Emery’s side have earned 42 points from their past 20 top-flight matches (W13, D3, L4) – only Manchester City have a better record over the same period.
- They are two shy of scoring at least 20 goals in their opening eight top-flight matches for the first time since 1932.
- Matty Cash is set to make his 100th Premier League appearance.
Referee: Rob Jones. Assistants: Ian Hussin, Wade Smith. Fourth official: Paul Tierney. VAR: David Coote. Assistant VAR: Tim Wood.
The match takes place on Sunday 8th October at 2pm at Molineux. This match is not due to be broadcast live on UK television and has been moved because of Villa’s European midweek match.