Wolves revival can be inspired by fit again Michael Kightly

Having been instrumental in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ promotion from the Championship in 2009, Michael Kightly subsequently endured two injury-ravaged seasons from which he is only just beginning to re-emerge. Having featured 41 times in achieving a top two finish, an ankle operation and Patella tendonitis in both knees restricted Kightly to four starts and six substitute appearances in 2009-10, with only one start and a further three showings from the bench last term.

Kightly started the season at Wolves and after making a few brief appearances, he was dispatched to Watford in October to regain his match fitness. 12 games and three goals later, he is back at Molineux and has started three games since the new year. In a recent 3-2 defeat against Aston Villa, Kightly scored his first Premier League goal and it clearly meant a great deal to the man once dubbed ‘The Ryan Giggs of non-league football.’ “Even speaking about it now is emotional,” he revealed post-match, when quizzed on finally finding the net in the top flight. “It has been the hardest two years of my life. But that moment made every minute worth it.

Signed from Conference side Grays Athletic in the first few months of Mick McCarthy’s reign at Wolves, Kightly made an instant impact with his ferocious wing play. He inspired Wolves to a play off semi-final place in his first season, attracting attention from Aston Villa, Charlton, Spurs, Portsmouth and Everton before agreeing a four-year deal.

His spells on the sidelines appeared to correspond with dips in Wolves performances, with a persistent ankle injury blighting his first full season with the club, Wolves ended the season narrowly missing out on a play-off place and Kightly ended it by signing another long term deal. Despite impressing in Wolves’ promotion campaign, his season was cut short by a broken metatarsal, and on his return he suffered another ankle injury in the early stages of their first season in the Premier League, which required an operation.

Kightly impressed in Tuesday night’s 3-0 surrender at home against Liverpool and will be desperate to remain fit and cement his place in the first team, and Wolves could certainly benefit from his attacking impetus. Currently 19th in the table, Wolves are already embroiled in a fight for their Premier League status with QPR, Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan.

Wolves has proven to be a haven for wingers in recent years, with the likes of Matt Jarvis, Adam Hammill and Stephen Hunt all flourishing in Kightly’s absence. Reliant on invention from wide areas, Wolves will need all four fit and firing in the coming months, if they are to avoid relegation.

Jarvis was rewarded for his fine form last term with his first England cap and he remains on the periphery of the squad ahead of the upcoming European Championships. A former U-21 international, Kightly has a chance of emulating Jarvis’ achievements should he remain fit for a sustained period of time and retain the form he was demonstrating prior to his injury troubles. After such rotten luck in recent years, Michael Kightly is unlikely to be looking too far in to the future. Making up for lost time is likely to be the priority.

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