Nuno confident Wolves can keep stars if bid for Champions League spot fails

Boss Nuno Espirito Santo has dismissed fears Wolves could lose their stars if they fail to reach the Champions League.

Wolves head to Aston Villa on Saturday as surprise contenders for the top four in just their second season back in the Premier League.

They sit sixth, five points behind fourth placed Chelsea and level on points with Manchester United.

Fifth place would earn a Champions League spot if Manchester City’s two-year European ban for breaching financial fair play rules is upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore and Ruben Neves have all been linked with moves but Nuno remains unconcerned about any exodus.

He said: “I don’t think that’s the reason they are here. The reason is they enjoy working together so we don’t have to achieve anything to retain them. At no point am I thinking about it.

“We don’t think about that (the top four). There’s no race for anything, the race is to compete, improve and make good games. This is the challenge for every team in this moment.

“I’m very proud of the work we have been doing. We have begun to build something, we did the right things and we are still in a building process.

“We have achieved important and remarkable things but still have a long way to go, there is still a lot of room to improve.

“When we started we didn’t know what was in front of us but we know we had a fantastic club to take care of and try to become as huge as it was in its past history.”

Wolves followed up a 2-0 win at West Ham with Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth. Nuno has a fully fit squad ahead of the trip to Villa Park and is wary of their hosts, despite them sitting second bottom in the table.

He added: “I expect Villa to be very difficult because they have good players. The table doesn’t mean anything, in this mini tournament we have anything is possible. We look at Villa as a strong opponent.

“I appreciate Dean (Smith), I respect him a lot. We are rivals and it’s special for us.”

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