Already without long term absentees, Emil Krafth and Harvey Barnes, Howe is unable to call upon Sven Botman, Elliott Anderson, Lewis Miley, Alexander Isak and Jacob Murphy through illness or injury. And to add to Howe’s selection woes, late on Friday evening FIFA ratified the suspension imposed by the Italian FA on Sandro Tonali which means he starts his 10-month sabbatical from football, commencing immediately.
With Isak’s absence possibly stretching into six weeks Howe will be wrapping Callum Wilson in cotton wool as his team faces seven games before November is out. And the only ray of light that seems to be squinting through the curtains of his office is in the physical form of Joe Willock, who returned to first team action on Wednesday evening as a second half substitute.
The situation regarding Tonali was obviously the main topic to push Howe on at his press conference on Friday morning and while he hoped to still have Tonali at his disposal for selection, subsequent confirmation from FIFA that they had ratified his suspension rendered that hope redundant.
But before leaving the matter in the hands of the powers above, Howe did address the general topic in eloquent terms, saying: I think there's always scope to improve everything that we deliver for our young players and that's education, advising them of the pitfalls. These pitfalls have been there for many years and there's different types that can occur in their careers. The better guidance we can give them at a younger age then hopefully these situations can be avoided”.
On losing the services of ISAK and Murphy, neither of whom managed to see out the midweek Dortmund game Howe said: “Very different injuries, Alex is a groin which we don't think is serious but it's reoccurrence of the groin injury he suffered playing for Sweden, so we need to assess that. He's had a scan today, but we don't suspect that is going to be too bad”.
“Jacob's is totally different it's dislocation of his shoulder. It's not clear what we're going to do, and I think he's going to see a specialist today. You can play with these injuries, or the other side is he needs an operation and he'll be out for some time”.
On Elliott Anderson, Howe was equally as pessimistic advising that “Elliot looks like he's going to be out for around eight weeks with a back problem which is a pretty bizarre injury”.
But on Sven Botman Howe there was a brighter synopsis: “Sven is improving he's out on the grass. He's not training with us yet but we're hoping we can get him back pretty quickly. We have to be careful with the injury he's got”.
Howe also spoke about Joe Willock, describing his return as “huge”. He also singled out Matt Targett for praise, saying: “I rate Matt very highly. I really do and it was great to see him come on (against Dortmund) and do so well. I thought he made a real positive impact to the team’s performance and it's great to see”.
Wolves meanwhile come into the game on a little run of form that sees them unbeaten in their last four Premier League fixtures, winning two and drawing two.
Team Manager Gary O’Neill welcomes back Mario Lemina and Nelson Semedo from suspension. Jean-Ricner Bellegarde could also feature having shaken off a calf injury.
However, Joe Hodge will not feature as he is out for a couple of months after undergoing shoulder surgery. Hugo Bueno ALSO remains out as he recovers from a thigh injury.
The match referee is Anthony Taylor. His Assistants are Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn. Fourth official is Thomas Bramall; while VAR is under the control of Jarred Gillett and his Assistant in the VAR bunker is Steve Meredith.