11:00 7th August 2014
Kevin Thelwell looks ahead
Kevin Thelwell believes that at least two-thirds of the teams in the Sky Bet Championship will set out harbouring a promotion dream.
And Wolves Head of Football Development and Recruitment sees no reason why the Molineux Men should not be among that group as they look to build on last season’s Sky Bet League One title.
“I think it’s going to be a really tough league - you just have to look at the teams involved and there aren’t many of them that haven’t been in the Premier League.
“You have to consider some of the players and there are some really strong squads.
“Inevitably the teams that have come down will be looking to go straight back up again – they have the financial firepower, they have the players and they’re also recruiting the better players.
“So you have to think they’re going to be strong.
“Then you’ve got to think about the group in the top six that didn’t quite make it last season – Derby look very strong, and then Brighton, and Middlesbrough look like they’ve made some good signings, so it’s going to be a really tough league.
“Any team from 15 or 16 could be in the top six; if we were all to sit down and come up with a top six, they could all be different names for different reasons.
“I think it’s a huge challenge, but it’s one we’re really excited about and looking forward to - I don’t think there’s anything to be frightened of.
“We’ve got a lot of players who have played in the Championship before, we’ve got a lot of players who have had a taste of the Championship and have had time in League One and are better for it, and we should be quietly confident of making a good fist of it.”
Discussions continue around the squad and the options of strengthening before the transfer deadline of August 31st.
The momentum and hunger within the squad is something which Kenny Jackett is keen to build on, but there remains the possibility of bringing in additional quality should the right players be available.
Thelwell adds: “We are always looking at finding ways to make sure the group we have got as is good as it can be but then also trying to improve that group.
“A lot of time is spent talking, thinking, reviewing and evaluating the squad, which we are really happy about at the moment.
“And at the same time we spend a lot of time doing the same about players who might come in and improve the squad.
“It is definitely more about evolution this year and less movement than last year because we already feel we have bought in players who are capable of playing in the Championship.
“I think that is a good thing.
“The environment that Kenny has created on the pitch and the momentum from last season will hopefully make sure they are ready to go and do well in the Championship.
“We feel fairly comfortable with what we have seen from the team in pre-season so we are happy with where we are and what we have got.
“The players have got the momentum, the right environment and the drive to go into the Championship and show that they are capable.
“There are a few that have been in the Championship and maybe not had that much of an opportunity that we now feel are ready to go out there and do it.
“But also there are maybe a couple of positions where we could do with a bit of strengthening if we can find the right players who can do that.
“We may end up starting as we are and we feel confident with what we have, but then if a good one comes up in the right position then we will try to do it.
“There are a lot of targets and discussions around different players but it is difficult to replace the ones we have because they have done really well.”
And one player whom Thelwell is again keen to see do well this season is Bakary Sako.
Even though Wolves were relegated in their last Championship season, Sako was one of the more consistent performers and finished up landing the Player of the Year award.
“I think Sako is in a really good place – he seems to have got framed in his mind exactly what he wants to achieve, and what his future looks like,” said Thelwell.
“And I don’t think he will be distracted from that really.
“He did relatively well in his first season in the Championship.
“He was in the top three for assists and was our second top goalscorer and player of the year.
“Last season he did really well for us, with the goals he scored for us and the assists, so I fully anticipate he will do really well for us again.
“I’m sure everyone feels like that.”