Wolves: Julen Lopetegui says Diego Costa must ‘push the bad things away’

Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui (left) talks to striker Diego Costa (right) during the club’s training session in Marbella, Spain

New Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui has urged striker Diego Costa to “push the bad things away” and concentrate on helping the club rescue their season.

Costa, 34, is available for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup fourth-round tie at home to League Two Gillingham after serving a three-match ban before the World Cup.

He was sent off for headbutting Ben Mee towards the end of a Premier League draw at Brentford on 29 October.

It was the most noteworthy moment of Costa’s short Wolves career so far.

The former Spain striker is yet to score in six appearances since he effectively came out of retirement after leaving Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro in January to assist a club that had been left without a recognized forward.

Bruno Lage has since been replaced as manager by Lopetegui, who picked Costa regularly during his two years in charge of Spain and selected the former Chelsea forward in his 2018 World Cup squad before he was famously sacked immediately before the tournament.

Lopetegui knows what a positive impact Costa can have but warned he must concentrate on his own game rather than feuding with opponents.

“Diego knows this is a great opportunity for him,” said Lopetegui. β€œHe was more or less out of the high level of the game for six months. Now he has a chance to play at the elite level again, in the Premier League.

“In training he’s like a child again, like a young player. He’s working very hard to recover the best version of himself and we’re going to help him do that.

“But he has to push the bad things, that we know – and he knows too – away. I want to see his character, playing football, not doing silly things.”

Jimenez has to ‘improve’

Despite three substitute appearances for Mexico at the World Cup, fellow striker Raul Jimenez’s fitness remains a cause for concern given the season restarts with Wolves potentially playing seven matches in 26 days.

Lopetegui did not provide much clarity over the extent of the likely involvement of the 31-year-old, whose last club appearance was in August and whose future has been the subject of intense debate.

“Raul is working in the right direction but he has to improve a lot more to be ready to start with us,” he said. I hope that when he is fit and perfect he can play [every three days].”

How to follow Wolves on the BBC bannerWolves banner footer

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *