Nuno Espirito Santo reinvigorated after seeing family for first time this year

Management in the Premier League can often feel like a lonely place, but the last 12 months have been particularly difficult for Nuno Espirito Santo.

Away from the pressures of building on Wolves’s remarkable success over the past four years, Nuno has balanced his job against the backdrop of a “terrible” worldwide pandemic, with his family over a thousand miles away in Porto.

Nuno has spoken frequently about the isolation, loneliness and his fears for the future of football, but last month there was finally a moment for the Wolves head coach to savour.

After Portugal was removed from the Covid travel ‘red-list’ on March 15, his wife Sandra and two daughters were able to join him in England for the first time this year.

“It wasn’t in the circumstances that we all wish, but it was a great lift for me, for them, for everyone and us as a family,” he said. 

“You need time together and it’s been a long period without each other. We’ve faced a long period without being able to visit our own countries. 

“We are delighted to work here but when we joined Wolves we always had this space for a couple of days off to maybe get a flight, have a quick visit and kiss your daughters and come back, but now it is not possible. 

“Everybody realises and we have to understand that it’s not our fault. We have to obey the rules, we have to be compliant with the protocols and testing. 

“Everything has changed, including our freedom, and we are trying to adapt and change some things. Nothing is going to be the same [again].”

Nuno’s third season in the Premier League has been further complicated by events on the field, with the sickening head injury to Raul Jimenez a major blow to their campaign.

Jimenez is now back in training after fracturing his skull at Arsenal in November, and there remains optimism that he can feature this season.

In the absence of the influential Mexico international, Pedro Neto has emerged as Wolves’s player of the season and the 21-year-old forward will face West Ham on Monday in excellent form.

Last week Neto’s reputation further increased after an impressive performance for Portugal in their World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg.

Nuno said: “Pedro is in an important moment of his growing process as a player because he plays many games with us. He is involved in the national team with Portugal who is now in the top ranking of national teams of the world.

“That tells you how good you have to be just to join that squad. Pedro is deserving his chances and I think he’s taking them.

“He is improving and cannot change as a person, that would be a mistake. But I think he has his feet on the ground and knows that he still has a long way to go.”

Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio has been cleared to play after he was stretchered off in the last game against Liverpool following a collision with Conor Coady.

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