Premier League • England

Lage rejects selection claims amid Wolves star’s continued Liverpool links

Conor Coady; Adama Traore Wolves TEAMtalk

Wolves manager Bruno Lage has defended his selection for Saturday’s defeat to Crystal Palace and denied the omission of Adama Traore was influenced by those above him at the club.

The West Midlanders’ superb run of results came to a crashing halt at Selhurst Park as they lost 2-0 to Patrick Vieira’s side. The Molineux outfit had won four and drawn one of their past five encounters before the trip to south London. Wilfried Zaha and Conor Gallagher bagged the second-half goals that saw Palace move up to ninth.

They now sit just one place and one point behind Wolves heading into Sunday’s fixtures. Traore has been a regular starter over the past two seasons, with 37 appearances in both 2019-2020 and last term.

The Spain international has been given the nod seven times this campaign but was benched against Everton on Monday. And he was again among the substitutes for the Eagles clash, playing the final 22 minutes.

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After the game, Lage was asked whether he felt Traore would have been an asset with his abilities on the counter-attack. And the Portuguese tactician tried to explain his reasons for leaving the former Barcelona man out of his starting XI.

“That is the question every time,” he told Sky Sports. “When you look for the starting team we want, every time we have to take decisions.

“We play with Adama also against Leeds and we don’t have the chances to go in the transition. OK, I understand your question and for sure we think about it.”

Traore contract not an issue for Lage

Traore has 18 months of his contract remaining with the Black Country outfit. Recent reports suggested he was stalling over signing an extension, with bigger clubs though to be keen.

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Tottenham were linked over the summer and Liverpool are now reported to be in the race. Rumours have been circling that Lage might have been ordered not to start the former Middlesbrough winger due to his contract situation.

But he was quick to set the record straight on that issue, insisting he is in sole charge of selection.

“No, no, no. I don’t know what happened before. But for sure I am 100 per cent free to take my decisions and that is my job,” he added.

Bruno Lage in post-match interview after Wolves win

“The personality I have, I don’t accept these kinds of things in my role. One thing is the contract and the other thing is my ideas. If I need him to play and to win games, I will put him in again.”

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