Wolves boss discusses plans to ease Pedro Neto’s blow as he plots unleash “incredibly direct” gem in surprise role …

Gary O’Neil could relieve the woes of Pedro Neto’s injury by make a shock rotation to his team…

Wolverhampton Wanderers have begun to find their footing under the guidance of Gary O’Neil, after what was a dreary summer for the Old Gold.

From financial fair play (FFP) woes to the departure of Julen Lopetegui just five days prior to the 2023/24 Premier League season opener, it was a testing time for those at Molineux.

Ten games into the season and O’Neil is finally getting the best out of his side, who sit 12th in the league table having netted 13 goals, just 18 shy of their total tally of last term to highlight their progression under the new manager.

Unfortunately, it’s not all been plain sailing for the Midlands club, who were humbled last time out as star man Pedro Neto was forced to withdraw with a hamstring injury, a sight no one wanted to see.

Pedro Neto injury news

The Portuguese winger pulled up during Wolves’ 2-2 draw with Newcastle United at Molineux unchallenged and was stretchered off in what was an anxiety-ridden sight for those associated with the club to witness.

After struggling to fully emerge at Wolves over the years due to injury woes, Neto has finally hit top form this term, highlighted by his eight goal contributions in ten league appearances so far.

The 23-year-old currently tops the Premier League assists chart with seven, as his creative eye on the right flank continues to cause havoc, with him averaging a stellar 2.5 key passes per game.

Speaking after the Newcastle draw in which the winger was hurt, O’Neil provided a hopeful first-look evaluation of the Portugal international, saying that he was “moving around” after the game.

The manager drew from Joe Hodge’s recent hamstring injury, expressing hope that Pedro Neto might have a similar recovery since Hodge’s absence wasn’t prolonged.

With Hwang Hee-chan on the left, Matheus Cunha in the center, and Neto on the right, O’Neil has introduced a new level of direct offensive threat. However, with Neto sidelined, he must explore alternative options.

One player the manager highlighted as a potential replacement is Jean-Ricner Bellegarde, a deadline day signing. O’Neil mentioned he’ll figure out a way to cope without Neto.

While deploying a central player in a wide role might not be conventional, the statistics indicate that the Frenchman could excel in the position previously occupied by the injured number seven.

Before joining Wolves, the 25-year-old impressed in Ligue 1, scoring two goals and providing two assists in just three appearances for Strasbourg.

Described as “incredibly direct” by football data expert Thom Harris following his debut against Liverpool, Bellegarde demonstrated his formidable skills on the ball, hinting at his potential to replicate Neto’s dynamism in wide areas.

Harris also highlighted Bellegarde’s versatility, making him a strong candidate for a wide forward role. His stats in France earlier in the season underscore his offensive threat.

According to Sofascore, the £12.8m signing averaged an impressive 2.7 successful dribbles per game before leaving Ligue 1, a higher average than Kylian Mbappe in the same league, who averaged 2.2 successful dribbles per game.

O’Neil could harness Bellegarde’s power and directness to fill Neto’s void, ensuring the squad maintains momentum even without their lead forward.

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