Wolverhampton Wanderers host Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
Both clubs find themselves mired in the relegation zone amid personnel alterations. Former Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui turned down the chance to take charge of Wolves, leaving the caretaker duo of Steve Davis and James Collins at the helm of the side sitting in 18th.
Steve Cooper celebrated his contract extension by halting the slide of five consecutive defeats with a draw with Aston Villa last Monday night. After climbing off the foot of the table – all the way up to 19th – Forest dismissed two members of the recruitment team that oversaw the arrival of 22 new players this summer.
Here’s everything you need to know about the first top flight meeting between Wolves and Forest since 1984.
Wolves: 4 Wins
Nottingham Forest: 1 Win
Nottingham Forest: LLLLD
Ruben Neves is a welcome returnee for Wolves but Nathan Collins has one more match of his suspension to serve. Chiquinho (knee), Sasa Kalajdzic (knee) and Pedro Neto (ankle) are all set to be sidelined for the foreseeable future with long-term issues.
Boubacar Traore could be available after sitting out last weekend’s defeat to Chelsea with a virus but Raul Jimenez is set to miss at least another fortnight while he receives treatment for a groin injury in Mexico City.
Wolves Starting 11 (4-3-3): Sa; Semedo, Kilman, Gomes, Jonny; Nunes, Neves, Moutinho; A Traore, Costa, Podence.
Bench: Sarkic, Ait-Nouri, Hwang, Mosquera, Ronan, Hodge, Campbell, Guedes, Bueno.
Omar Richards is reaching ‘the final stages of his rehab’ according to Cooper but the summer arrival from Bayern Munich isn’t expected to return in time for this Saturday. Moussa Niakhate’s recovery is also accelerated towards its scheduled conclusion for the end of the month.
Jack Colback has been struggling with ‘a nagging back’ which leaves his involvement this weekend in doubt as well.
Nottingham Forest Starting 11 (4-3-3): Henderson; Aurier, Cook, McKenna, Toffolo; Yates, Freuler, Kouyate; Johnson, Dennis, Gibbs-White.
Bench: Hennessey, Worrall, Mangala, Williams, Awoniyi, Lingard, O’Brien, Surridge, Boly.
Both clubs have desperately laboured in front of goal this season. Only Wolves have scored less than Forest and the Black Country outfit have as many as Bournemouth’s Philip Billing (three).
The paltry quality of the chances each side has created suggests their struggles are set to continue. However, Forest have made a habit of conceding low-percentage efforts this season, shipping a goal from outside the box in seven successive matches.
Without a fervent City Ground on their side, the ‘forward step’ Forest made against Aston Villa may be rapidly followed by two paces back against a team that loves to take aim from range.
Prediction: Wolves 1-0 Nottingham Forest