Ståle Solbakken is looking forward to unveiling Jermaine Pennant in a Wolves shirt at Molineux for the first time – and has confirmed he has the winger in mind for tomorrow night’s attractive clash with Bolton Wanderers.
The manager believes the on-loan Stoke player’s performance at Huddersfield on Saturday mirrored that of the side as a whole; slow at first and then much improved.
And he thinks his overall contribution was more than he could have expected from someone who has played so little first-team football this season.
“When you take into consideration that he hasn’t played many games, he was very strong in the last 20-25 minutes,” Ståle said this afternoon.
“It was probably his best 20 minutes of the game.
“He was a little bit like the team. Perhaps he underestimated the division in the first 25 minutes. The tackles were flying and he spent time jumping! But he raised his level.
“He really put some good crosses in and showed good movement. That was really encouraging because we had someone ready to go on for him. I thought that after 70 minutes, he would be ready to come off.
“I’ll see tomorrow how he is but I would think there’s a fair chance we’ll see him tomorrow. I’ll decide then if it’s from the beginning but I don’t see any problems with that. When I saw him training today, he looked confident.”
Pennant has been squeezed out at the Britannia Stadium by Jonathan Walters and former Wolves winger Michael Kightly.
But Solbakken believes his squad as a whole were impressed by the arrival of the 29-year-old ex-England under-21 international.
“You have that sense that he’s very welcome in the team,” he added.
“You can feel he went straight into the group because of his capabilities.
“This is a guy who can help the team and we were lucky to get him when three players in the same position (Slawomir Peszko, Stephen Hunt and Razak Boukari) went out in eight days.”
The Norwegian explained that Pennant’s arrival prompted him to let the on-trial Somen Tchoyi when he did, rather than give the former Albion forward a little longer to stake a claim.
One message that is still going out to the squad is the need to stand up to physical opponents.
Ståle believes there was an element of Huddersfield trying to ‘physically abuse’ Wolves after the earlier lessons the side were given at Leeds and Cardiff.
“We had trouble with the opposition – they tried to abuse us in a way,” said the boss.
“We’ve had that problem in two or three away games now. As soon as the tempo became more normal, we came into it and should have scored one or two more.”