BBC pundit Don Hutchison believes that Wolves are now having to carry Raul Jimenez as a ‘passenger’ despite the Mexican scoring in midweek.
Wolves got the Julen Lopetegui era off to the best possible start on Tuesday night as they progressed into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup after a 2-0 win at home to Gillingham, which included a rare Jimenez goal.
The Mexico international has never been able to rediscover his form from 2018-2020 that saw him score 30 league goals, which is understandable given the traumatic head injury he suffered a couple of years ago.
But Hutchison has claimed on the BBC’s Football Daily podcast that his injury has turned him into a passenger in this Wolves side and Lopetegui’s men are now having to carry the striker.
He said: “Before Raul Jimenez got his injury where he was reliable, he was a frontman that was brave, and we’ve seen that with his injury. Now, as I said before, that’s quite hard to manage if you’re the physios and the doctors and actually the management team when you’re trying to get him back to full speed.
Do Wolves need to sell Jimenez?
“It’s how you nurture that talent, trying to give him the confidence and the minutes. At the same time, without sounding harsh, you are carrying a passenger at times because he’s not at full speed.”
TIF Thoughts on Jimenez…
It’s not just Jimenez’s head injury that has clearly impacted his ability on the football pitch, but he’s been struggling to stay fit this season due to a hip injury and was only afforded a spot on the bench against the Gills, hinting at his lack of match sharpness heading into the second half of the season.
Jimenez has in fact only started three games all season, which could also help explain why Wolves have only scored eight goals in 15 Premier League games, so Lopetegui will be hoping he can rediscover his form and fitness sooner rather than later.
The Mexican was afforded 21 minutes on Tuesday night and appeared to change the game when he came on and scored the opening goal from the penalty spot, earning himself a 6/10 player rating in the process – so he could well still have a role to play at Molineux if he can stay fit.