Daily Express

Stay safe. Then come back and we’ll celebrate together NUNO’S PLEA TO WOLVES FANS FACING LOCKOUT ALONGSIDE ‘ CRAZY’ RIVALS OUT IN ATHENS

- By Dave Armitage

Wolves train yesterday at their HQ, preparing for a game they do not want

VWOLVES manager Nuno Espirito Santo and skipper Conor Coady have issued impassione­d pleas to fans to stay safe in Greece.

Around 500 are expected to watch the Europa League last16 clash with Olympiakos in bars and restaurant­s in Athens tonight having already bought tickets and booked flights.

None will be allowed into the stadium as the match will be played behind closed doors because of the coronaviru­s.

On Tuesday night UEFA rejected Wolves’ request to postpone the game but many supporters are expected to congregate near the Karaiskaki­s Stadium.

Partisan home fans also plan to gather around the ground and there is a fear of flashpoint­s.

Nuno has put the Wolves team in lockdown, refusing to attend the pre- match press conference. He and his players will also not do after- match interviews and will fly straight home.

The virus threat has been amplified by Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis testing positive. The 52- year- old said on Tuesday he was self- isolating.

Olympiakos players and staff have all passed coronaviru­s tests but Nuno is adamant the game should not be played.

The Wolves boss is worried about the fans too, saying: “We appreciate that even though the match will be behind closed doors there will be fans here in Athens and we want them to enjoy the journey.

“But my main message is to be safe. We appreciate it, and then when we come back we can be reunited and celebrate together.

“We all know this virus is scary, but the most important thing is that our fans, they’re safe. It means so much to us the way they support us.” One

Greek local said: “The Wolves supporters do need to be very careful because Olympiakos have a section of crazy fans.”

Coady underlined the feelings of the team. The skipper said: “As the games have come thick and fast we have got more and more excited. The disappoint­ing thing is that there will be no supporters in the ground.

“Football is nothing without the fans. Having them in the ground is what we play for. So we’re looking forward to it in terms of the tie but you look at playing the game without our fans and that’s disappoint­ing. There’s not a lot we can do about it.”

Nuno added: “We’re ready. We have all the insurance in terms of health situations, we’re OK.”

Olympiakos head coach Pedro Martins assured Wolves there was nothing to fear. He said: “There have been thousands of cases in Europe but this club have taken all measures necessary and we have all been tested and are negative.

“After we were informed [ of Marinakis’ diagnosis] the club followed all processes – you can have no doubts about that.”

 ?? Main picture: KIERAN CLEEVES ??
Main picture: KIERAN CLEEVES

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