Richard Stearman heads into the new season with Wolves tomorrow relishing a role as one of the senior professionals and confident that “exciting times” are returning to Molineux.
The versatile defender is heading into his sixth season at Wolves, standing behind only Dave Edwards as Kevin Foley in terms of length of service for outfield personnel.
Having enjoyed a successful spell at Ipswich during the second half of last season, Stearman was quickly earmarked by Head Coach Kenny Jackett as a key figure for his revamped Wolves squad, which start the new Sky Bet League One campaign at Preston tomorrow (3pm).
“I really enjoyed my time at Ipswich,” says Stearman.
“I hadn’t played as much I would have liked at Wolves and when I went there I got a lot of games under my belt.
“It was a good second half to the season for myself personally and Ipswich stayed up which was the objective when I went there.
“I’d now like to pick up from where I left off back with Wolves.
“It’s nice to hear that the gaffer has been mentioning me as being in his plans – everyone wants to play football week-in week-out and I am no different.
“If I am doing that then I happy and if I am selected hopefully I can put in the performances that I have been doing during pre-season and can help us be at the right end of the league.”
Still only 25, Stearman has amassed almost 300 career appearances, 142 of them with Wolves, and will certainly be one of the more experienced members of the dressing room.
“It’s a different situation for me to be in at Wolves now,” he acknowledges.
“I was always one of the younger lads playing in the team and now I’m one of the senior pros in the dressing room.
“That has been quite a big changearound but we have got some great young players here and a lot of them are going to have a big say in how we get on this season.
“These are exciting times for Wolves.”
The Wolverhampton-born defender has played the most recent pre-season friendlies alongside Danny Batth in the centre of defence, and predicts a big career ahead for his fellow Midlander.
“This is my sixth season here and I have watched Danny progress during that time and have seen him come a long way,” he says.
“He has got a very good future in front of him.
“I am very much looking forward to hopefully playing alongside him for a large proportion of the season.
“I think we can build a good partnership.
“We are good pals both on and off the pitch and, fingers crossed, we can do the business this year.”
Stearman continues: “It’s a big chance for us to achieve something this season.
“The Championship promotion season was one of the most enjoyable of my career.
“League One is not somewhere where any of us wanted to be or planned to be.
“But if we perform as we can we have got a good chance of achieving something memorable.
“If we can get promoted it is something that everyone within the club would cherish and it is something we are aiming towards.”
During that season mentioned Wolves won 3-1 in a lively encounter at tomorrow’s opponents Preston, Chris Iwelumo scoring a hat trick before being sent off and Wayne Hennessey also seeing red in injury time.
“We’d take that again!” Stearman says of that Deepdale result.
“It’s a tough opening for us.
“Preston will be looking to be up and around it themselves and they have made some good signings this summer.
“It looks like it will be a good game and a good test but hopefully we will come back with the result we want.
“I think it will give a good idea to the younger lads of what to expect in this division but if we can get off to a good start I don’t see why we can’t kick on from there and have a really good season.”
Wolves were this morning closing in on a possible 5,000 sellout away following for tomorrow’s game, which would be the largest seen in over four years, since that Championship title was clinched at Barnsley in April, 2009.
Stearman adds: “It’s a big boost for all of the lads in the dressing room to see the level of support we are going to have at Preston.
“Knowing that we have still got good and loyal support, especially after the last couple of seasons, is really important.
“We are definitely looking to repay that support and can hopefully give them a good show tomorrow.
“It has been a tough pre-season but we have got the hard work out of the way and the boys are fit and raring to go.
“We’re all looking forward to Saturday.”