Kevin McDonald makes his first return to Sheffield United tomorrow with memories of “two really good years” at Bramall Lane – but with three points for Wolves on his mind.
The stylish midfielder, fresh from being named among the top three players in the division by the league’s managers, swopped the Blades for Wolves towards the start of the season and may attract some criticism on his return as a result.
But he has vowed to take that in his stride as the hosts mark their 125th anniversary celebrations, focusing instead on trying to help Wolves come through a tough encounter against Nigel Clough’s in-form side.
“It’s going to be nice for me to go back to Bramall Lane,” says the midfielder, who scored Sheffield United’s first goal of the season against Notts County back in August.
“I had two really good years at the club and I enjoyed every minute of my time there.
“They took me on after a trial period which I’ve got even more respect for.
“It’s going to be different going there as part of an away team but it’s part of football and I’m really looking forward to it.
“Of all the games it’s the one I’ve probably been looking forward to most over the season.
“I’m sure there will be a mixed reception but that’s life – I’m playing for Wolves now and will go there and give 110 per cent.
“The fans were brilliant to me but they are entitled to their opinion about what they want to say and
I’ll have to take the criticism on the chin.
“I had a fantastic time at Sheffield United and it’s nice to see them enjoying such good fortunes again.
“I’ve been at Wolves seven months now, I am enjoying my football and we are playing well.
“I’ll just have to go out and play and try and put on a good performance not for myself but more importantly for the team.
“It will be a tough game as they all are away from home in this league.
“And there’s probably none harder than Sheffield United away.
“They’ll have a big crowd getting behind them and we’ll have to match their work ethic and hopefully be able to show our quality.
“It’s a big stadium and a good one for everyone involved – we’re all excited about the game.”
Of greater importance to McDonald than his own fortunes is trying to help Wolves back into the sort of groove which saw them fashion a record-breaking run of nine successive victories.
A draw with Shrewsbury and defeat at Crawley has once again prompted a congested top end of Sky Bet League One, but with McDonald still confident Wolves can finish the job.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game in tough conditions at Crawley and we never really got going,” he said.
“Even the basic things which are normally so simple we did wrong.
“It wasn’t great from start to finish and we know that.
“We had a chat after the game and we know it’s got to be much better than that if we want to stay at the top of the league.
“That’s in the past now and we’ve just got to look forward to a massive game on Saturday.
“It’s been a great standard in League One this season although I think it’s been like that for all three years I’ve been in this division.
“The first season I was there we finished third in 91 points.
“So we know we are nowhere near yet and there are a lot of points still to play for.
“It’s been a long, hard season and a lot of it is about grinding out results but we have also been on a great run lately to get ourselves into a fantastic position.
“It’s all about trying to pick up enough points between now and the end of the season to finish up in the promotion places.”
McDonald may have missed out on that League One Player of the Season gong as he and Alex Pritchard were pipped to the post by Brentford’s Adam Forshaw.
But he has taken heart from being nominated in the top three.
“It was nice to be nominated for the award and even better when you think it’s come from all the managers,” he added.
“Unfortunately I didn’t win but it was nice to be in there and probably a response to how we have been doing this year.
“The boy Forshaw has had a great season as he has done for the last few seasons so fair play to him.”