Wolves players wary of artificial pitch ahead of Europa League second leg against Crusaders

Wolves players admit going to Crusaders next week is going to be a pain in the grass.

The Belfast part-timers play on a 4G artificial pitch, something new for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side to contend with as they look to build on their 2-0 first-leg lead in the Europa League second qualifying round next Thursday.

Crusaders’ tiny Seaview ground in north Belfast also has capacity of just 3,383 and is tight to the pitch, unlike the much bigger and more open Molineux.

Wolves captain Conor Coady said: “It’s still going to be tough going there. It’s astroturf. We know what we need to do and we need to just go there and do that professionally.”

Diogo Jota, who scored Wolves’ first goal in European competition for nearly 40 years, said: “I’m not sure what the second leg will be like. They are losing so they need to do something different.”

Wolves have started their season 16 days before their Premier League rivals after kicking off in sweltering 30 degree heat, but the players are relishing their early taste of competitive football.

Coady, 26, added: “We’d prefer to have a start like this – hot summer nights – because it means you are doing something right. Friendlies can do your head in.”

Jota, 22, said: “I’m young so I feel fresh. I want to keep up the good work of last season because we had a fantastic year.

“It’s been a different kind of pre-season. We have travelled a lot but that’s part of the game for the good teams. We want to be a good side so we need to get used to that.”

Confident of a win

Wolves were set to take a 1-0 lead to Northern Ireland only for Ruben Vinagre to score in the 93rd minute to give them more breathing space.

Coady admitted: “It was always going to be tough but that second goal was huge. We probably deserved a few more but getting that second goal was massive.”


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