Joe Hodge has impressed after becoming a regular for Wolves in recent weeks, but Wednesday night was a tough night for the young Irishman.
The 20-year-old midfielder was trusted with taking Wolves' final "must-score" penalty in their shootout against Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup quarter-finals. Hodge would ultimately see his penalty saved by Forest keeper Dean Henderson, sending Wolves crashing out of the cup.
It was a brutal moment for the youngster, but he has earned deserved praise from his manager Julen Lopetegui, for his bravery in stepping up to take the crucial spot-kick.
Joe Hodge earns praise from Julen Lopetegui despite shoot out miss
Joe Hodge took Wolves' fifth penalty in Wednesday night's EFL Cup shootout against Nottingham Forest. With Sam Surridge and Ruben Neves missing the first two penalties of the shootout, Hodge's kick was decisive, with Forest 4-3 up after their fifth penalty.
Ultimately, Forest keeper Dean Henderson would come out on top, and send his team through to the last four.
It was a brutal moment for a man who only turned 20 in September, trusted with such a huge responsibility for his club.
Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui was quick to praise Hodge's bravery in stepping up for the final spot-kick, and said that the experience would help him grow into an even better player:
I want to highlight his commitment and character. But this is done and the players that don't score the penalties are never at fault.
He wanted to take a penalty and show his character and this is all. He's going to grow and improve from this, for sure.
The revelation that Hodge volunteered himself to take the crucial penalty only adds to his increasing pedigree, with the midfielder having impressed in recent weeks for Wolves.
He has not shied away from any responsibilities since being trusted with a starting berth in midfield, and brilliant footage showed him shackling Thiago in Wolves' 2-2 draw at Anfield in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Away end loving this. 👊 pic.twitter.com/oIIN7aCMiy
— Wolves (@Wolves) January 9, 2023
Joe Hodge is certainly a bright prospect for the future and, in a recent interview with the Wolves club website, he praised the influence of experienced teammates in midfield such as Ruben Neves, in helping him to develop. Despite his miss, the character shown by stepping up for such a crucial penalty will only stand to him in years to come.
Nottingham Forest will now progress to the semi-finals, where they face the tough assignment of Manchester United. They will be without shootout hero Dean Henderson for that tie, however, with the goalkeeper on loan from United.