Having first come across Daniel Podence in youth football 15 years ago, Wolves boss Bruno Lage is now pondering when to unleash the winger in the Premier League.
Podence has only started twice since his fellow Portuguese took over in the summer, both times in the Carabao Cup.
But he has made the most of his chances, scoring in the second round at Nottingham Forest and again in midweek during a 2-2 draw against Tottenham, who prevailed on penalties.
He could still find himself shuffled back to the bench against Southampton on Sunday but the 25-year-old goes back a long way with his new manager and has been assured he has a role to play.
“I know Daniel since he was 10 years old, I know him since that age,” said Lage, who was a youth coach at Benfica when Podence was an emerging player at Sporting.
“I played against him at under-10s, under-15s, I think at under-17s. I know what he did at Sporting, at Olympiacos and here. I know him very well and I know the things he can do for us and the things he can do to help us in our game.
“It was not a surprise for me what guys like Daniel did in the (Spurs) game. He is doing well in training, he trained well again on Friday. It is a long season and I try to choose the best decision for the game.
“Sometimes one player comes in, scores a goal, but it doesn’t mean he must play from the start. He can do the job, the same thing (as a substitute), to bring the game to us. It’s about who has the best strategy to play the other team. Our job is about decisions and I want to take the best ones.
“I have four wingers, because we don’t have Pedro Neto, and they give us different solutions. The thing is to choose the best two for each moment.”
Wolves have had a slow start under Lage, taking three points from five Premier League games with just two goals along the way.
He is still looking to stamp his identity on the team he inherited from Nuno Espirito Santo, and may well need a second transfer window to complete the task.
At St Mary’s he will face off a side he feels are on the other side of that journey after two-and-a-half years under the guidance of Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“The way he plays, it looks like a real team,” he said of the Saints boss.
“It’s the best compliment I have to say about his work. When you look at them you see a real team, who can do a lot of things. When you defend they can do this, when you are pressing they can do this, you are compact, you have ball players who know what to do with it.
“It is going to be a good game to see.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.