Revealed: The inside story behind Wolves’ first ever trip to China
Wolverhampton Wanderers will jet out to China for their highly anticipated pre-season tour on Saturday.
Nuno Espirito Santo and his 26-man squad – along with dozens of club officials – will fly to Shanghai from Heathrow on Saturday evening. The flight is due to last approximately 11 hours before Wolves touch down in China and begin preparations for their hectic summer fixture list.
A squad which boasts household names such as Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves will be supplemented by a talented crop of youngsters, including 16-year-old Swiss centre-back Christian Marques and Kingswinford kid Taylor Perry.
The four teams competing in the Premier League Asia Trophy have been split into pairs with Wolves and Premier League champions Manchester City based in Shanghai and West Ham and Newcastle United in Nanjing.
Wolves are into the third week of Nuno’s pre-season plan with a stint at St George’s Park sandwiched between two gruelling weeks at Compton.
The Portuguese head coach has overseen double sessions in a bid to ensure his players are in peak physical condition for their Europa League opener at Molineux on July 25.
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Wolves will use Shanghai SIPG’s state of the art training facility during their stay in China. Interestingly, Shanghai SIPG captain Hulk was a teammate of Nuno’s for two years at Porto earlier in his career.
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Wolves have revealed their home kit for the forthcoming season and the away kit is set to be unveiled in the next week with plans to showcase it in their second fixture.
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Shanghai-based owners Fosun, headed up by billionaire Guo Guangchang, are also expected to be visible during Wolves’ stay in China.
On the day before each game Nuno will meet with the assembled media for a press conference. The Portuguese and City boss Pep Guardiola will brief the media in back-to-back slots with the Chinese press certain to focus on Shanghai over Nanjing.
Newcastle – who are set to appoint Steve Bruce as Rafa Benitez’s successor – are Wolves’ first opponents on Wednesday (11am, UK time) at Nanjing’s Olympic Sports Centre.
The squad will travel 300 kilometres from Shanghai to Nanjing – a journey which takes just 59 minutes via high speed train.
Wolves will return to their base in Shanghai before facing either City or West Ham the following Saturday at the Hongkou Stadium.
As we alluded to earlier, Wolves plan to wear their new away strip for the first time in the second match.
Once the tournament has concluded Wolves will return to England ahead of their first European fixture in 39 years.
Tickets for the home leg of Wolves’ tie against either Northern Irish club Crusaders or Faroe Islands minnows B36 Tórshavn are selling rapidly.
Confirmed squad for China
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio, John Ruddy, Will Norris
Defenders: Conor Coady, Willy Boly, Ryan Bennett, Roderick Miranda, Jonny Castro Otto, Ruben Vinagre, Dion Sanderson, Christian Marques, Max Kilman, Terry Taylor, Ed Francis
Midfielders: Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Leander Dendoncker, Morgan Gibbs-White, Taylor Perry, Luke Cundle, Hong Wan
Attackers: Diogo Jota, Ivan Cavaleiro, Adama Traore, Niall Ennis, Theodor Corbeanu