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Wolves bolstered a small squad with the arrival of Daniel Podence in January but are Nuno Espirito Santo's side strong enough to win the Europa League?

The impressive Midlands outfit shelled out £17million to prise Podence from Olympiakos this winter, adding much-needed depth to their forward line in the process. Do they know possess the depth to go far in Europe's second club competition?

As Wolves look set to march in to the last 16 of the Europa League, BTSport.com examines their chances of winning the tournament outright come May.

The focus of Wolves’ January transfer window was centred around the chasing of another Portuguese star - Daniel Podence. A deal for the diminutive winger was negotiated throughout the window and eventually the black country club got their man for a fee of £17million.

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The 5ft 4ins Podence should fit into Wolves’ playing style seamlessly on either side of the 3-4-3 formation Nuno Espirito Santo has deployed.

His stature and dribbling ability led pundit Gary Neville to draw comparisons to Eden Hazard. If he can achieve half as much as the Belgian, it will have been £17m well spent.

What Podence lacks in size, he makes up for in lightning speed and technique. The ex-Olympiacos man offers the perfect rotation option for the in-form Adama Traore.

Podence has already played in the Champions League six times this season during his spell in Greece and scored in the 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham in matchday one.

The 24-year-old further bolsters Wolves’ European experience and the presence of his former Sporting Lisbon teammate Rui Patricio and many more of his compatriots in the Molineux dressing room should make the transition easier.

"That was one of the reasons I chose Wolverhampton. Of course, I spoke with Rui (Patricio), but I also know Ruben (Neves), (Diogo) Jota and (Joao) Moutinho very well," he said.

“I think that’s going to be a big help for me to adapt to English football, which is challenging and it’s really good to have well known faces around.”

The addition of Podence to Jota, Pedro Neto and Traore means Santo now has four quality wingers at his disposal as they continue to compete in both the Premier League and Europa League this campaign.

But perhaps the most significant addition to the Wolves squad in January wasn’t a new signing, but rather the return of Willy Boly after more than three months out with a broken foot.

The Frenchman is a huge presence at the heart of Wolves’ defence, and it is no coincidence that during his absence Santo’s men failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 games.

Since the return of the 6ft 5ins centre back, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have kept four on the bounce, a run which has included games again Manchester United and high-flying Leicester.

Not only does Boly give the team a calming presence defensively but he also offers Wolves an additional attacking threat from set pieces. The defender thought he had scored the opener against Leicester last week before VAR ruled it out for a tight offside and in the Europa League group stages, he scored a late winner in Istanbul against Besiktas.

The return of Boly, is key for Wolves in as it also gives Santo more options in midfield as it allows him to utilise Leander Dendoncker as a box-to-box midfielder.

The Belgian had previously been covering for Boly at centre-back but is far more effective using his physical presence to boss the midfield and provide support for Moutinho and Neves.

Wolves head into the second leg of their last 32 Europa League tie against Espanyol with a 4-0 aggregate lead after ruthlessly putting the Spaniards to the sword with an impressive showing at Molineux.

Wolves’ style of play has proved a perfect fit for European knockout football, the solid defensive structure of their 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formations have seen them go away from home confident of keeping a clean sheet.

And with overlapping full backs and lightning fast wingers, Wolves can cause significant attacking threat without detracting from their defensive shape.

Asked about his side’s chance of winning the Europa League, Santo quipped that “dreaming is for free”. For a coach who rarely gives much away, it highlights the confidence he has in his group of players.

Although the tie against Espanyol is almost over as a contest, it will provide a useful chance for Santo to blood some of his younger players in a European away fixture and it will be interesting to see how strong Wolves’ squad depth truly is.

Another January signing, 19-year-old Leandro Campana, will be hopeful of making his first appearance for the black country club this Thursday.

The Ecuador Under-21 international is yet to feature for Wolves, but when it comes to striking options, he would be considered the backup to Raul Jimenez.

Therefore Thursday’s game provides the perfect platform for Santo to give Campana European experience which could prove invaluable should he be called upon in the latter stages of the competition.

Wolves also brought in midfielder Enzo Loiodice on loan from Dijon with an option to buy at the end of the season but the Frenchman has linked up with the Under-23 squad. The 17-year-old full back Luke Matheson was also signed from Rochdale but loaned back to his former club.

Out-of-favour attacking midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White will also hope to be given the chance to make an impact.

The Under-17 World Cup winner has promised a lot since graduating from the Wolves academy but of late he has found it difficult to get playing time. He will be hoping to stake his claim for a regular starting spot, by putting in a performance of note.

The trip to Barcelona, then, still holds great significance to Wolves who will be hoping their fringe players can prove themselves in European football and give Santo a selection headache for future fixtures.

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