Young striker Liam McAlinden is keen to prove he can make the step up to regular senior football when returning for pre-season at Wolves.
McAlinden, who turns 20 in September, was in and around the first team matchday squad for the final eight games of last season, and came off the bench for his debut, almost scoring, in the last home game of the season against Burnley.
In a Twitter Q&A with fans shortly after his appointment, new Head Coach Kenny Jackett revealed McAlinden was one of the strikers he is keen to assess closely during pre-season, as Wolves look for a refreshed and reshaped squad heading into League One.
And the striker believes it is now up to him – and indeed the club’s other young players – to impress in search of the opportunity.
“I heard that the new Head Coach had mentioned that he knew about me and that was really good to hear,” he said.
“I’ve been making sure I have kept myself fit during the close season so I can come back and try and impress.
“I had a lot of games for the Under-21s last season which was a good standard so I feel I am ready to take the next step but I know it’s all up to me to prove it and earn my chance.
“We had a good season with the 21s so I think there are some good young players here who will be trying to get involved.
“We are all keen to show what we can do and if we carry on working hard and improving then it is all about taking the opportunity when it comes along.”
McAlinden admitted it was a something of a bitter sweet experience to land his first team involvement towards the end of last season.
Delight at turning out for a club he has supported all his life and joined at the age of eight, but massive disappointment at a second successive relegation.
“It was great for me to be involved around the first team,” he explains.
“But as I said at the end of last season it was difficult because it was really disappointing with the team being relegated.
“For me to be around the first team set up and get on for my debut was something I will personally remember given I have been at the club since I was eight and am a big fan.
“To get on against Burnley was great and I thought I’d scored with a shot not long after I’d been on.
“I then set up the second goal and it was just good to be out there although obviously the most important thing was the disappointment of losing such an important game.
“It was good to be around the first team set up for the last eight games and it helps me settle in alongside them.”
McAlinden has been a prolific scorer at Academy level and also in Under-21 football last season, scoring nine goals as Wolves mixed it with the top young teams in the country.
Committed to trying to prove he can also score goals at first team level, he is also aiming to be a part of a bright new dawn after such sustained Molineux disappointment in recent times.
He added: “It has been a very difficult time for Wolves over the last couple of years but I think now it is about looking forward.
“League One will be difficult but we will all be thinking positively and it would be something special for any of us to be involved in a push for promotion.
“We’ve got a new Head Coach in and it’s a fresh start and up to us to make the most of it and do what we can to help the team.
“All the way through I feel I have managed to score goals where I have played whether it be Academy or Under-21s football.
“Now it’s about trying to prove I am capable of playing in League One and if I can do that trying to score goals again.”
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