With their Premier League status safely assured Wolverhampton Wanderers can relax as they play out their two remaining fixtures this season, but they are unlikely to be resting on their laurels. Relegated F.A Cup finalists Portsmouth await the Black Country club’s arrival for their Premier League game on Saturday at Fratton Park. Wolves still have positions and pride to play for and if they were to pick up enough points to finish in 14th place it will be seen as a good achievement for Mick McCarthy’s team, who have scrapped all season for the Molineux faithful.
The men in gold will welcome back their skipper Karl Henry, who returns from suspension following his controversial red card against Arsenal. One player who will be delighted to see the return of his captain is David Jones, Henry’s midfield partner-in-crime. Jones revealed to the club’s official website about how much the team has missed their skipper, his leadership qualities and his overall contribution to their team despite the fact Wolves managed to clinch survival in his absence. Henry was missing for the last three draws against Stoke City, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers and Jones, the 25-year-old midfielder, said: “I think even in these three games we’ve missed Henry, you can certainly appreciate that as a player.” The Wolverhampton midfielder also highlighted the importance of having good leaders in the team and finding comfort in those that surround you: “When you’re looking down the line to see who’s in the team, it’s re-assuring to see him in it. You feel ‘Oh good, Henry’s here’ because if there are any problems on the pitch, he’ll address it as well as the fact I’ve got a good playing relationship with him as well.”
Full-back Kevin Foley believes the Wanderers can now start to grow in confidence following a successful campaign. Wolves fought off relegation this time around but it is undoubtedly going to be tougher next season as the teams coming up seem stronger than the relegated trio of Hull City, Burnley and debt-ridden Pompey. The experience gained from their survival should hold Wolves in good stead for next season and Foley expects a more confident attitude from now on. “The Premier League has been a new place for us and it’s been full of challenges,” said Foley, who added: “Having stayed in the Premier League for a year, rather than just being the new boys, we can build on it. We’ve lost one in eight and that defeat was to Arsenal in the 94th minute so we’ve definitely got something to build on for next season.”
On a less positive note, Wolves are sweating on the fitness of winger Matthew Jarvis, who hopes to be back in time for the final game of the season, but at least will have the summer to recuperate for another tough campaign next term. It would also appear Stephen Ward will undergo an operation on his troublesome knee having played through the pain barrier for a lot of the current term. Ward has been ruled out for the two remaining games this year, but it is of no great consequence now as the club have staved off the drop.
After their two remaining games Wolves’ boss McCarthy faces a potentially busy summer as he may look to re-shuffle and hopefully strengthen his pack. Both chief executive Jez Moxley and McCarthy have openly discussed their wish to strengthen for next season and bring in new blood for the right prices if possible, but maintain their expectations next season should be realistic and are aiming to finish between 9th and 17th place. There have been a fair few interesting rumours flying about of late however. Former player Robbie Keane has been marginalised at Tottenham Hotspur and some reports suggest that Wolves are once again after him and wish to link Keane with his Republic of Ireland strike partner Kevin Doyle.
But for now it is time for the Wolverhampton fans to have a bit of fun and concentrate on the good things they currently have as they vote for their goal of the season (not a whole host to choose from admittedly). The nominees are as follows: David Edwards v Fulham, Jody Craddock’s 2nd goal v Stoke, Nenad Milijas v Bolton, David Jones v Tottenham, Kevin Doyle v West Ham, Ronald Zubar v West Ham and Matt Jarvis v West Ham. Voting details can be found on the club’s official website.
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