From 2-1 up with 12 minutes to go – a lead given to them by Richarlison’s goal coming off the bench – the Spaniard saw his side capitulate in spectacular fashion to lose 5-2.
A second-successive home defeat, following on from a 1-0 reverse to West Ham left players shell-socked and fans outraged but with an injury list which shows few signs of easing, having Richarlison available to start for the first time since mid-September is a significant boost.
“He is getting better, has been training well during the week,” said Benitez.
“In terms of mentality yes (he is ready), in terms of his fitness he will not be 100 per cent but he is getting better and I am confident he maybe can start and am confident for sure he will give us something.
“If you think about the top scorers last year, he was one of the top scorers so he is someone who can play well, has the ability to beat players and score goals – enough things for a team.
“When you have a player who has been doing so well last year and is a key player for you, and was good for us at the start of the season, you can miss him or you can be really pleased and it can be a big positive for the team when he is coming back and scoring goals like the other day.”
Benitez will probably need more than Richarlison returning to the team to raise morale after a chastening 12 minutes against the Hornets when things went as badly as they possibly could.
“The main thing is we stick together as a team,” added Benitez.
“If we are compact then the easiest thing (to boost confidence) is winning the next game, it’s as simple as that.
“But I’m not sure Wolves will agree with me so we will try to be sure we are as competitive as we have been the rest of the season.”
Benitez, as a former Liverpool Chelsea and Newcastle manager, will take charge of his 350th Premier League match at Wolves on Monday.
In typical fashion, however, the Spaniard will be more focused on what happens on the pitch.
“I didn’t know. Normally I don’t count,” he added.
“It’s good to have some good numbers but I will be happier to celebrate with three points.”
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