Nuno Espirito Santo believes his Wolves side have taken another step forward this season despite a drop off in returns in the Premier League.
Wolves finished seventh in each of the previous two Premier League campaigns following their promotion as Championship winner in 2018, but they go into their final four games – starting against Brighton on Sunday – in 12th place with the battle for Europe realistically beyond them.
But the list of mitigating factors starts with a number of serious injuries. Raul Jimenez, Jonny Castro Otto and Pedro Neto have all been hit hard, while the likes of Daniel Podence and Willy Boly have struggled with repeated injuries.
The situation has led Nuno to admit it might be time to reassess his belief in working with a small squad in the future, but he said he was proud of how his players had dealt with the situation over the last nine months.
“I think we should all be very proud of the work we have been doing together,” Nuno said. “All the players who were here since the Championship, all the members of the club that have helped us to do the work we have been doing.
“Of course we are always looking for improvement of the team and of the club. It depends on the analysis you have but I think we have been able to improve throughout the season, even though the table doesn’t reflect that.
“But I think the way we have been able to deal with the situations, always putting aside conflict and realising we have to work together, I’m very proud.”
The most serious of the setbacks to hit Wolves this campaign was the fractured skull suffered by Jimenez at Arsenal in November.
The Mexico striker, who had scored four goals in 10 Premier League appearances prior to the injury, has returned to training, able to take part fully with the exception of heading the ball.
Jimenez is due to see a specialist on May 18 in the hope of featuring in the final game of the season against Manchester United five days later.
Nuno has left the door open for the 30-year-old, but said it was too soon to be making any predictions as it will depend entirely on the medical advice.
“He’s happy in training sessions and his team-mates know what Raul means to us and they are delighted to have him and see him healthy,” Nuno said. “But we still have to wait. The 18th is an important date to have the real assessment and to decide how to move forward.
“There is no point asking about ‘ifs’. We just keep on doing things to protect him. It was a very serious injury and we cannot afford any mistakes. We will wait for the 18th and move forward.
“Always since this injury Raul has been supported by the doctors and it is amazing the work they have done. The most important thing we see is a healthy Raul. Apparently everything is OK but we need to wait for the proper exams.”