Nuno hails Moutinho’s men­tal­ity in mam­moth sea­son

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By John Percy

Joao Moutinho is on course to make more than 60 ap­pear­ances this sea­son, with Nuno Espir­ito Santo in­sist­ing the “top pro­fes­sional” is in­valu­able to Wolves.

Moutinho will rack up his 56th ap­pear­ance of an ex­tended cam­paign against Sh­effield United tonight, to equal the record for this sea­son in Europe. He has played 50 matches for Wolves and five for Por­tu­gal. He could even play 64 games if he ap­pears in ev­ery game and his club reach next month’s Europa League fi­nal.

Wolves started their sea­son on July 25 last year with a Europa League qual­i­fier against Cru­saders.

Ahead of the cru­cial league match at Bra­mall Lane, Nuno high­lighted the 33-year-old’s en­dur­ing qual­ity as his team hunt a Cham­pi­ons League spot.

“Joao is a top pro­fes­sional and he’s ex­pe­ri­enced. To play so many games says a lot about his men­tal­ity,” the man­ager said. “He knows the im­por­tance of how to han­dle a very tight sched­ule and what you have to do dur­ing that process.

“Joao does it ev­ery day, not only this sea­son, either. He has been com­pet­i­tive through all his ca­reer and he is a nat­u­ral com­peti­tor.

“He loves the game, loves to train and com­pete. He en­joys pass­ing this knowl­edge to younger team­mates and that is so good for us.”

Nuno has con­firmed that £17mil­lion sign­ing Daniel Po­dence is avail­able for the game at Bra­mall Lane, af­ter be­ing cleared to play by the Pre­mier League.

Po­dence re­turned to Por­tu­gal last week to at­tend a per­sonal is­sue, but has been granted dis­pen­sa­tion to play due to the Gov­ern­ment’s rules on mak­ing elite sports teams ex­empt from 14-day quar­an­tine.

The for­mer Olympia­cos winger could even start as Pe­dro Neto is doubt­ful af­ter tak­ing a “strong kick” in the de­feat by Arse­nal on Satur­day.

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