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Julen Lopetegui insists Adama Traore remains a key player for Wolves despite his lack of action.

The winger revealed his desire to play more after coming off the bench to score the winner in last week’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham.

He has started just twice in the Premier League under Lopetegui with his future yet to be resolved and his contract expiring at the end of the season.

But ahead of Sunday’s trip to Newcastle boss Lopetegui insists the 27-year-old, who joined from Middlesbrough for £18million in 2018, can force his way into the starting line-up.

He said: “He doesn’t have to do any other things, he works in a very good way. I have to choose the moment where I think he is going to help more because all the matches are different but he has to be ready.

“He is able to play in the line-up. Adama is a very special player, a particular player, he is trying to improve in a lot of things. I have seen him with a big commitment. Players want to play more but he is an important player for us.

“A lot of focus is on the line-up but in a lot of matches the players on the bench are key. They have to be ready to be key players.”

Wolves go to St James’ Park before crucial games with relegation rivals Leeds and Nottingham Forest this month with Lopetegui fully aware of what the survival battle entails.

He said: “To relax is for the summer. You have to be aware we are in the middle of the river and we have to arrive at the other side of the river.

“It will be a very hard task. We will be involved with a lot of teams until the end, I am sure. The line is very fine.

“The football match is like a melon. You don’t know what kind of melon until you open the melon.

“You could have one idea in your mind but all the matches are different. You try to react depending on the melon.”