Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Bruno Lage pleaded with Morgan Gibbs-White to remain at his parent club in January instead of moving back to Sheffield United for the remainder of his loan spell, with the 46-year-old making this admission to Birmingham Live.
The midfielder was an integral part of the Blades’ rise to the play-offs this term, being one of few players at Bramall Lane to shine under Slavisa Jokanovic and he continued to perform well under successor Paul Heckingbottom when he was appointed in November.
Recording 13 goals and 10 assists in 40 competitive appearances for the South Yorkshire outfit during the 2021/22 campaign, he was only prevented from making further appearances by his late summer arrival and injury that kept him on the sidelines during the winter window after sustaining an injury against Fulham in December.
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Because of this injury, he temporarily returned to Molineux to recover from this setback and this caused concerns for many United supporters that were worried about the prospect of the 22-year-old being recalled.
However, Gibbs-White returned to South Yorkshire in time to feature against West Bromwich Albion in the early stages of February and remained at the club until after their play-off semi-final defeat against Nottingham Forest, almost playing a key part in guiding the Blades to Wembley.
But the second-tier side’s supporters were right to be afraid of a potential recall during the winter, with Lage admitting he wanted to end his stay at Bramall Lane prematurely.
He said: “In January I did everything to convince him to stay here.
“It was very clear and I gave him space and time to think about it.
“At the end of January we spoke and between him, Scott (Sellars) and me we decided he would go and finish the season there. After, we will see.”
Considering he was thriving at Bramall Lane, it probably wouldn’t have been beneficial for the player if he’d had his loan cut short, so the decision to keep him in South Yorkshire was a good one.
He may have been a useful asset in the top tier during the second half of the campaign – but it’s not as if they desperately needed him considering they were never in any real danger of being relegated so that may have also influenced their decision.
Now he’s back in the Midlands though, the 22-year-old will be full of confidence after enjoying a productive season of second-tier football under his belt – establishing himself as one of the best players in the division.
That will give him the belief that he can make the step up to the top flight for the long term and because of his performances at Bramall Lane, he will certainly be given the chance to impress at Molineux in pre-season.
However, if they want to keep Gibbs-White happy, Wolves may need to utilise him regularly and it will be interesting to see whether he will be given a satisfactory amount of game time if he did stay put.