Matt Doherty has vowed to work hard over the summer to come back better and stronger next season to stay injury-free and return to the sort of heights hit at the start of the current campaign.
The Irish-Under-21 international’s excellent form at the start of the season helped Wolves make a good start to the Sky Bet League One, but he then suffered a couple of hamstring injuries which limited his availability in the second half of the campaign.
He came through 90 minutes of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Coventry, and is now focused not only on Saturday’s final game of the season with Carlisle but also making sure he returns for pre-season in peak physical condtion.
Doherty says: “I felt so good at the start of the season at the top of my fitness and felt I was playing well.
“I just want to get back to how I felt then with my body which I’m not at yet.
“Over the summer I will be doing a lot of work to get back to that stage to come back fit and strong for next season.
“I can’t really afford to get injured again.
“I need to come back ready to try and get in there again in the Championship.
“I thought I did well enough in there last season even though we got relegated.
“I need to get myself in the best shape possible for the start of the season and do everything I can to avoid breaking down in any way.
“I need to be, as the gaffer has said, rock solid, and so I’ll be working as hard as I can over the summer to get into that situation.”
On his return to the starting line-up at Coventry, Doherty explained: “It was my first 90 minutes since the home game with Brentford – and I don’t even know how many games ago that was.
“I started at Sheffield United but couldn’t complete the game so I’m happy to get through a 90 without any injury worries.
“There was a bit of tightness and a bit of cramp but that’s normal in this situation and I’d much rather have a spot of cramp then a muscle injury.
“I was happy to get through the game and thought I did alright.
“Defensively I maybe wasn’t fully sharp but you only get that with games but I grew into the game and think I held up fine.
“I started off a bit average but as the game went on felt more and more comfortable as I eased my way in.”
Doherty’s contribution at the start of the season – like all of the squad – played its part in Wolves’ overall success, not only in the defensive sense but also popping up with a vital late winner at Bristol City and winning a penalty late on at Shrewsbury.
“I played the first 15 games before I got injured and it feels a long time ago so you almost forget that you’ve made a contribution,” he added.
“So I’ve been involved in maybe 20 or so games, a bit less than half a season, so it is some sort of contribution.
“I was flying at the time and the injury came at the worst moment, then the second at the worse moment and the third as well.
“It’s been frustrating but hopefully it’s not going to happen again next season.”
All focus this week however is on Carlisle on Saturday, where Doherty says there are many reasons why Wolves must be at the top of their game.
“We want to finish on a winning note,” he explained.
“We want to get the points record, we want to do well in front of a big crowd, and Carlisle might be in a position where they are going for points to be safe.
“For the sake of the league we can’t let up at all and have to give our best against Carlisle as it would not be fair on the other teams involved if we didn’t.
“It will be a good atmosphere and we will be ‘at it’ like normal, just like we were at Coventry.
“We may be champions already but everyone is driving each other on and we still want to win the game.”