October 22, 2021

Jimenez will be back to ‘the same player and person he was’ after fractured skull, says Wolves boss Nuno

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The Mexico star has been out since November after his horrific injury and his side have only won once in the Premier League in his absence

Raul Jimenez has been backed by Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo to return to his very best when he recovers from his fractured skull.

The Mexico star was involved in a sickening clash of heads with David Luiz during Wolves’ 2-1 win over Arsenal in November.

It had been feared Jimenez could be ruled out for the whole season, but with the forward making positive steps in his recovery of late, Nuno recently suggested he could return to action before the end of the campaign.

At the time of the incident, the Wolves boss called on the Premier League to introduce concussion substitutes in the interests of player welfare.

Nuno’s call has now been answered, with trials of a new system to begin in early February, but the memory of his star player’s injury is still a painful one.

“The first moment was very tough, when you see that so close and with the silence in the stadium and you realise how serious the situation is,” Nuno said in an interview with The Times.

“Raul is a lovely person. To see someone that you love so much like that, and then you start questioning: ‘Is he going to be back as the same man?’ Is he going to be able to continue doing what he does so good and enjoys so much?”

Despite these worries, Nuno says he believes Jimenez will “be back to the same player and person he was”.

Wolves have struggled badly in his absence, winning only one of their 10 Premier League matches without him so far and dropping to 13th in the table.

Striker Willian Jose has now been signed from Real Sociedad to ease the burden on the 18-year-old Fabio Silva, who has been thrown in at the deep end following his £35 million ($47m) move from Porto over the summer.

Silva became Wolves’ youngest ever Premier League goalscorer in December but he has only scored twice so far this season, with both goals coming in defeats.

Silva recently spoke exclusively to Goal about the challenge of filling in for Jimenez, but Nuno says it would be too much to expect from the youngster to reach the same heights straight away.

“How you replace Raul?” he said. “He’s irreplaceable. If you want to play short with Raul you can play short. If you want to go with crossing you are comfortable with Raul. It’s been very difficult to find the right solution.

“I will not be fair if I ask Fabio to do the same things. When Raul was the age of Fabio, he was playing his first game. OK, Fabio cost a lot of money, sure, but we believe that he’s going to become a fantastic player. He has that ability to instinctively know where the ball is going to be.”

Wolves travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday before their return fixture at home to Arsenal on Tuesday evening.