Raul Jimenez netted his first Mexico goal in almost a year in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers striker has linked up with his country during this international break for the first time since fracturing his skull in a game against Arsenal last November.
Jimenez has featured in all three of Mexico’s World Cup qualifiers with Canada, Honduras and El Salvador.
He stepped off the bench with half an hour remaining in El Salvador this morning and scored a stoppage time penalty to seal a 2-0 win.
After a slow start to the season, Jimenez is beginning to come into form with a goal and two assists in his last two appearances for Wolves before the international break.
Bruno Lage believes Jimenez’s two-assist showing against Newcastle United last time out was the striker’s best game of the campaign to date.
But the Wolves boss has an unwanted call to make ahead of Saturday’s West Midlands derby with Aston Villa.
After featuring in 184 of Mexico’s 270 minutes of action during the past week, Jimenez now faces a 5,368-mile dash back to England before reporting to Compton Park for training on Friday morning.
In his first two seasons at Wolves the 30-year-old became accustomed to the quick turnaround and previous boss Nuno Espirito Santo rarely opted to rest him afterwards.
However, on the two previous occasions where Jimenez played in the Americas three days before starting a Wolves match, his performances suffered.
In October 2018 Jimenez struggled to make an impact as Wolves were dismantled by Watford at Molineux, just three days after he’d played 90 minutes for Mexico in their 1-0 defeat to Chile.
And in September 2019 Jimenez produced a tired showing as Wolves were hammered 5-2 by Chelsea – again, this performance came three days after he’d played 90 minutes in Mexico’s 4-0 loss to Argentina.
With Jimenez’s gruelling playing and travelling schedule in mind, a number of Wolves fans believe Lage should hold the striker in reserve at Villa Park on Saturday.
One supporter said: “We can cover him. Better that than have a tired player.” Another added: “He can start from bench.”
Lage has numerous attacking options and £35million striker Fabio Silva returns to Wolves with confidence after grabbing two goals and two assists on his debut for Portugal under-21s.
One fan suggested starting the 19-year-old against Villa: “He would have already known this. Have him (Jimenez) on the bench and start Silva. If Silva is part of his plans, which he has stated, what’s the issue?”
Lage could also recall Adama Traore and Daniel Podence, both of whom didn’t head off on international duty, but the Wolves boss might be without Francisco Trincao after he tested positive for Covid-19.
Should Raul Jimenez start for Wolves irrespective of his international exertions? Let us know in the comments section below…