Rarely-seen Wolves prodigy offers hope to Nuno amid colossal setback – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets… 

Wolverhampton Wanderers were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening after they were defeated by their local rivals Aston Villa.

Nuno Santo rung the changes, quite literally, as he named an entirely new starting XI from the one that featured against Newcastle United.

Michael Kightly reveals the truth about his exit from Wolves in the video below…

It was clear to see that the competition was low on his priorities considering the club are competing on the European stage this season.

Anwar El Ghazi and Ahmed Elmohamady bagged both goals for Villa while Patrick Cutrone scored his second in the gold shirt since arriving from AC Milan in the summer.

The game also gave the Portuguese boss the opportunity to look at some of the club’s promising youngsters as aside from Ryan Bennett and John Ruddy, the average age of the squad was only 19.7.

Young centre-back Max Kilman certainly put his name forward following an excellent display against the much-stronger Villa side.

With Willy Boly’s shock and severe injury, it is no secret that Wolves look pretty stuffed defensively until at least January where they can take measures to replace him – but they might not need to.

Kilman showed why the solution is right underneath their noses.

Per SofaScore, the 22-year-old registered six clearances, two tackles, and won four ground duels. He also managed to block two shots.

Dean Smith may have made nine changes, but his XI was considerably stronger as it was filled with players that have actually played football to a professional and competitive level, so that makes Kilman’s showing all that more impressive.

As a left-footed centre-back, he seems like the ideal candidate to replace the Frenchman while he is out – Nuno clearly doesn’t trust Jesus Vallejo after opting for Matt Doherty in the role over him last weekend, while Romain Saiss is technically a midfielder.

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The former Maidenhead United man has played in two Europa League matches this term, so he’s not exactly shy to the big occasion, even managing to keep a clean sheet in one of them.

Nuno needs to give this defensive prodigy a chance before any decisions are made in January.

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