Wolverhampton Wanderers fans may well have thought that the club might have been dealing with a small off pitch issue when they looked at the selection choices of new gaffer Gary O’Neil, who in fairness, has been doing pretty well with the Midlands’ side since he arrived at the Molineux back in August following his departure over the summer from AFC Bournemouth.
Rumours started circulating in the press at the beginning of the week, but all that the club and O’Neil will admit to right now is that there was an unspecified ‘training ground incident’.
The talented 29 year old defender has not featured for the clubs’ first team squad since he came off the bench as a substitute in their 2-1 victory over Manchester City back in September, and he was again omitted from the squad that faced Arsenal and suffered defeat last Saturday.
Quoted by the BBC when O’Neil addressed the speculation during the build up for Tuesday’s game with Burnley, he explained.
“There was a training ground incident last week that’s being dealt with by the club. Jonny won’t be in the squad tomorrow. If and when he’s back available we’ll let everyone know. At this moment he won’t be available for the coming games. I’d rather not go into details in public – the club is dealing with it.”
Fans will note his lack of game time since September, yet whatever this incident may prove to be, it only happened ‘last week’ and many will make an educated guess that there is definitely a story here that is not being told.
O’Neil added that training ground ‘incidents’ could actually be beneficial for team spirit, but those incidents would never need to be addressed, and this was one that needed intervention.
“They can be healthy but those ones generally aren’t dealt with. Anything beyond that is dealt with by myself and the club. We’re working hard to shift the club in a certain direction. The Jonny incident has been dealt with and will continue to do so. My 100% focus is on Burnley tomorrow.”
It is not for me to speculate or postulate, but what is true though, is that having been an incredible regular in the first team squad following his initial on loan arrival back in the summer of 2018, he has only made three appearances so far in 2023/24 and people will wonder why the Spaniard has so quickly fallen out of favour.
There is also the fact that he remains under contract until the summer of 2025, and as Wolves fans already know Jonny’s talents when he is at his best, and at least on paper, he should really be only capable of improving them and helping to push them up the table a little bit as they look to consolidate again.