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Dean On Charlton


11:30 19th April 2013

Boss keen to build on Hull win

Wolves manager Dean Saunders wants his side to retain the momentum gained from Tuesday's victory over Hull City as they travel to the capital to play Charlton Athletic tomorrow.

After registering four wins from five games to haul themselves clear of the relegation places, Wolves had been dragged back into the nPower Championship bottom three after defeats to Bolton and Huddersfield.

However, Tuesday's fine win over promotion-chasing Hull has again lifted Saunders' side out of the drop zone, albeit solely on goal difference.

"It was a great win for us - over the last eight games we're top of the form league, nobody's got more points than us," he said.

"Obviously we lost to Bolton and Huddersfield, but we've got another win under our belts now which has kept the momentum going. We've proved that we can compete with the top teams."

Ahead of tomorrow's fixture, Charlton sit ninth in the league, and still have an outside chance of making the play-offs. Their recent record is comparable to Wolves, with both teams having taken fifteen points from eight games.

"Charlton are in good form as well," Saunders said. "I would imagine they'll be playing with a bit of freedom - they haven't got the threat of relegation hanging over them.

"If results go for them, they've got an outside chance with two games left. Chris Powell brought the team up from League One - he built a team in six weeks after clearing the decks and they won the league.

"Now he's taken that formula into the Championship and for most of the season they've been really hard to beat. They set up like that and he's been able to bring players into it who he can tell 'this is what we do'.

"Then they've added Ricardo Fuller to the equation and he might make the difference for them. He's a handful - he's big and skillful and he's played at the highest level."

Tuesday's victory saw a first start in nine games for Tongo Doumbia, a third winning goal in six games for Kevin Doyle and a different role for Stephen Hunt, who operated just behind Doyle as Saunders attempted to nullify the threat of Hull's five-man midfield.

The boss had words of praise for all three at his media conference, particularly the man who has worn the captain's armband for the past month.

"Kevin's back flicking the ball on for himself again - chasing things down, and that's Kevin. You know when you see him do things like that, he's feeling like himself again," Saunders explained.

"He's putting himself about, he's all action and all effort and he's getting the goals now, too. We're relying on him a bit because all our other goalscorers are injured.

"I've changed his training programme, we're doing a bit more speed and agility work, and that takes time to get through. He's sharper in training though, and that's been reflected in his performances."

Malian midfielder Doumbia came into the side for the suspended Jamie O'Hara, impressing many inside Molineux with an all action display in the Wolves engine room, and his performance also caught the eye of the manager.

He said: "He played well, he's been waiting for his chance and he came in and did well. He's going to be a big player for us now. He's good on the ball but he still struggles with the language.

"English football is completely different to what he's been used to, and being able to communicate with your partner is vital when you're playing central midfield. I've played abroad, and sometimes you'll know what you want to say to your team-mate, but you can't get the words out in time.

"So it'll take him a bit of time, but hopefully we'll begin to see the best of him now. I spoke to him last week and told him that I liked him as a player - he's got a lot of good attributes," he added.

"He's a good athlete, he covers the ground and he gets his foot in. He's good on the ball but he still needs to develop in terms of his discipline when playing in the midfield."

Another man who continues to impress is Stephen Hunt, who - despite being played in a more advanced role - turned in another solid performance on Tuesday.

Saunders explained: "We put Stephen on their deep-lying midfielder. Fathi played there for them and Stephen stopped him getting the ball. We prevented the likes of Boyd and Koren getting possession and the ball just ended up going back to their full-backs all evening.

"Hunt's job was to stop their midfielders getting on the ball - I playing him in a stopping job because I knew he'd do well there, even if he had to sacrifice his own natural game a bit. He did great though - they couldn't get any attacks going against us."

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