Wolves boss Bruno Lage insists new 6ft 7in signing Sasa Kalajdzic will relish the Premier League’s physicality despite being forced off on his debut.
Kalajdzic was thrown straight in on Saturday as Wolves got their season up and running with a 1-0 win against Southampton, making his first start just three days after completing his £16.2million move from Stuttgart.
The Austria striker needed treatment for a bloodied mouth after an early aerial duel with Southampton centre-backs Armel Bella-Kotchap and Mohammed Salisu before being replaced at half-time due to a knock.
Lage said: “One of my assistants said: ‘Now you understand the Premier League’ and he (Kalajdzic) said: ‘Let them come’.
“It was 45 minutes for him to adapt. I also follow the Bundesliga and that league also has the intensity and the aerial duels.
“He knows the Premier League is special because of that – every game he will be playing against top defenders.”
Daniel Podence’s scuffed finish in first-half stoppage time clinched Wolves their first win in 13 top-flight matches and lifted them out of the bottom three.
Lage revealed he was forced to hand Kalajdzic a surprise debut in the absence of Raul Jimenez, who was initially named among the substitutes before being withdrawn from the squad.
“We played Raul three games in a row without him doing a pre-season,” Lage said. “It was so hard for him to start the game, even to go to the bench.
“When he’s tried to run, it was with little pains, chronic fatigue, so it was an easy decision.”
Kalajdzic stayed down holding his knee after another challenge late in the first half and was replaced by fellow summer signing Goncalo Guedes during the interval.
“It’s nothing special,” Lage added. “What is important is that he played 45 minutes at a good level.”
Southampton slipped to their third league defeat of the season after failing to convert several goalscoring chances.
Che Adams had a headed effort ruled out after the ball went in off his arm and later headed substitute Stuart Armstrong’s delivery against the crossbar.
Salisu told Saints’ official website: “We are a little bit disappointed we didn’t end up with the points.
“I think the team did a great job, but in the end we don’t have the points, so it’s a little bit disappointing.
“We had good chances in the game and we have to take our chances, because when you don’t take your chances the opponent will punish you, which they have now.”