Wolves taking nothing for granted as Europa League knockout stages beckon

Victory over Slovan Bratislava on Thursday will put the Premier League on the verge of last 32

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo during the training session at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground, Wolverhampton. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 6, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Wolves. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
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Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo has said his team will not be taking anything for granted as they close in on the Europa League knockout stages.

Wolves take on Slovan Bratislava at Molineux on Thursday and victory over the Slovakian side would move five them points clear of the visitors, who sit third in Group K, with two games to play.

After a 2-1 win in Slovakia two weeks ago, Wolves are second in the group, a point behind Portuguese side Braga, whom they travel to play later this month.

Despite their position of strength, Nuno insisted Wolves will not be looking any further ahead then the match against Slovan Bratislava.

"We are always confident, we cannot expect things to happen, we have to make them happen," he said. "We have to play the game, we are ready to compete and Slovan are a very tough team. Competing well is more important [than thinking about qualifying].

"It was an important result [in Bratislava], Slovan are a very good team, they caused us problems and we expect a tough game again. We want to play, perform, we are back at Molineux and want to perform well."

Wolves will be without Portuguese forward Diogo Jota, who is banned after his late red card in Slovakia while English midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White is still struggling with a back problem.

Irish full-back Matt Doherty is expected to be fit despite being forced off in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Arsenal with a knee injury, as is Ryan Bennett, who has recovered from a groin injury and should return to the squad.

Wolves are 12th in the Premier League as they adjust to playing in Europe, and Adama Traore echoed his manager's caution about qualifying from their group.

"I can't say how far we'll go but what I can tell you is we will fight every game to win," the Spanish winger said. "We are aware of these three points but the important thing is to stay focused, we can't think about 'maybe we'll win three points'.

"Each game is important. We don't come out on to the pitch thinking 'win these three points and maybe we're in the next round'.

"It's a new competition for us, playing two games in the week, but the mentality of the team is great."