Leigh Griffiths starts his pre-season with Wolves today keen to make his mark and build on a superb campaign with Hibernian last time out.
The 22-year-old striker arrived at Molineux in January, 2011, but has spent the last two seasons back and on loan North of the Border with Hibs, the latest of which saw him notch 28 goals and land the Scottish Young Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Player of the Year awards.
He also landed his first Scotland start in the excellent summer win in Croatia, before which he was called by Wolves Head Coach Kenny Jackett to inform him he was very much in his plans at Molineux for this season.
Having been handed an extra fortnight’s break due to his summer international commitments, Griffiths will today meet up with the other Wolves players as they kick off their pre-season training camp in Scotland.
“I had another wee boy in the summer which was great and I also picked up my first Scotland start as well when we won at Croatia,” says Griffiths.
“I’ve managed to get a break and am just looking forward to getting back for pre-season now.
“The gaffer was great with me giving me some time off after the Scotland game and he wanted me to get a good rest which I have.
“I’ve then started working again in the last week and am ready to get back now and meet the boys up in Scotland today.
“I’ve been off on loan for the last couple of seasons and feel I’ve done well, especially last season scoring near enough 30 goals.
“From my own point of view I don’t think I could have done much more and that form was rewarded by the Scotland call-up in the summer.
“It’s a new chapter for me now and one I am looking forward to.
“I want to work hard and get into the team.”
It was one of Jackett’s early priorities to speak to Griffiths to let him know he was looking forward to working with him, a gesture appreciated by the frontman.
“The gaffer gave me a call just as I was boarding the plane with Scotland at Glasgow Airport,” he says.
“He said he was looking forward to me coming back down to Wolves and work with me and I was delighted to hear that.
“I’ve not had the breaks at Wolves which maybe I could have had previously but I’m looking forward to the challenge now.
“I want to get back for pre-season, work hard to get myself in the team and score goals.”
Within that of course were some mixed feelings given Griffiths’ success at Hibernian, who are also his boyhood team.
“Everyone knows I will always be very close to Hibs,” he explained.
“I supported them as a boy and I will still try and get back there whenever I can to watch games.
“But now my focus is in Wolves and hopefully I can get in the team and show people there what I can do.”
There is now plenty of expectation from the Molineux faithful keen to see Griffiths handed an opportunity in a Wolves shirt.
That process may start this week if Griffiths is handed some minutes either in Wednesday’s friendly at East Fife or Saturday’s game at his first club Livingston.
Whilst taking nothing for granted over his place next season, the striker is clearly relishing any weight being thrust upon his shoulders.
“There is always expectation in football and there was an expectation on me at Hibs to score goals,” he says.
“I was handed the number nine shirt at Hibs which a lot of great players have worn before me.
“Thankfully I managed to live up to the mark and scored a lot of goals last season.
“Hopefully I can do the same and score goals at Wolves this year as well.
“I know it’s been a difficult couple of years for the club and the league tables show that it’s just not happened for Wolves.
“You only get relegated if you don’t play well enough over a season.
“But I think everyone at the club will be giving it a fresh push in League One and we will all have to take the responsibility for what is needed.
“Hopefully we can get off to a good start and go on a good run and see where it takes us.”
And after this week it will be all about settling back at Wolves and getting all in place for next season.
“I spoke to the gaffer again a couple of weeks ago when I came down and found somewhere to live so I’m looking forward to getting settled,” he adds.
“Once that’s happened I’ll be able to look forward to the season which will hopefully be a successful one for me and for Wolves.”