O’Neil bemoans lack of investment as Wolves’ European push stalls

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Gary O’Neil believes a lack of investment is catching up with Wolves amid their injury struggles, claiming he warned the club of the risks of relying on a small squad in January.

Tipped for relegation after selling several key players last summer, Wolves have emerged as one of the surprise packages of the Premier League season under O’Neil.

They sit just three points adrift of seventh-placed West Ham with a game in hand and remain in contention for European qualification, but injuries to key attackers have hampered them in recent weeks.

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With Hwang Hee-chan and Pedro Neto sidelined by hamstring injuries and Matheus Cunha only returning from the bench in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Burnley, Wolves have been left to rely on teenage strikers Nathan Fraser and Leon Chiwome.

O’Neil believes Wolves have done well to even be part of the European conversation, given their lack of options.

“It’s hard to win games in the Premier League with a full squad and we’ve got five players missing with a small squad, so credit to the players,” he said after Tuesday’s draw at Turf Moor.

“We’ve got 42 points which surpasses last year’s total with all the restrictions placed on the playing squad, financially, by the club.

“To have achieved a better points tally than last season is a fantastic achievement.”

Wolves were linked with Armando Broja, Danny Ings and Che Adams in January but failed to bring in a striker, adopting a cautious approach after seeing Everton and Nottingham Forest suffer points deductions for breaches of the Premier League’s financial rules.

O’Neil has revealed he and sporting director Matt Hobbs were on the same page regarding Wolves’ need for bodies, saying: “I’m disappointed we’re not able to push at this moment.

“We flagged to the club, warned them we were overloading the players because it was such a small group.

“We warned them if we lost a few attacking players it would make a big difference. We flagged the situation at the time but the club weren’t in a position to act on it or help us.

“Then two weeks after the window closes we are without any strikers, leaving us with young lads working their socks off and senior players having to play every minute of every game.

“It’s a huge effort. Do I deserve credit? Of course, but for the guys to get to 42 points with the difficulties we’ve had to deal with is a bigger achievement than most would recognise.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.

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