Tuesday, November 15, 2022

By Nick Mashiter, PA

New Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui has told Raul Jimenez to think about club over country.

The former Real Madrid manager wants the Mexico striker playing for Wolves when he returns from the World Cup.

Jimenez has not featured for Wolves since August and has managed just four appearances while he struggles with a groin injury.

The 31-year-old spent three weeks in Mexico last month as part of his rehabilitation and has been linking up the national team, although he was at Molineux to watch Wolves’ 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday.

But, with Wolves bottom of the Premier League having scored just eight goals, Lopetegui is concerned about Jimenez’s situation.

“I have spoken with Raul, I am worried about him because he doesn’t play a minute with his team, Wolves,” he said.

“We need all of them but we need Raul fit and the best version. I hope he will come back here in this way. The most important thing is not the World Cup, it’s Wolves. I respect the decision of the player and the coach but above all for me it’s Wolves.

“The goals are about the team, when you play well you have more chances. The first aim is to improve all of the team.

“I believe if we improve the performances we will have more chances in each match. The players we have are able to score more. We are not happy with the numbers and we have to improve.”

Lopetegui has signed a three-year deal after Wolves first tried to appoint him in 2016, before he became Spain boss, and he initially turned them down in October over concerns with his father’s health.

He said: “Six years ago I had a possibility to be here. Now I am here, it is the right moment. I want to be here and I want to be in the Premier League. I know it’s not the best situation but we are sure we are going to change by working very hard in the next month.

“I believe in the players, in the club and together we can have a good future. When I was free they wanted me to come here, a month ago, but I had a family problem. They respected that, now fortunately my situation is better. I am very happy it’s happened and I’m here.”

The ex-Sevilla boss is also intent on adding reinforcements to the squad in January.

“When the market opens we have this possibility and we are going to do that,” he said.

“I’m not going to speak about names because the most important thing, with the next four matches we have to play, is this squad. We believe in this squad, we are going to work very hard.”

Lopetegui’s first game will be the Carabao Cup fourth-round tie at home to Gillingham next month, with the season now on hold for the World Cup, before facing Everton away when the top flight resumes on Boxing Day.

“We are aware we have to change some things in the team, the mentality of the players,” added the 56-year-old, whose new side are four points from safety.

“We’re not thinking about the table, just the next match. We have a lot of finals in front of us and we have to play them one-by-one.”

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