Whilst Kenny Jackett is not promising any surprises in his team selection for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie with Notts County, he is looking for some pointers from players who will get an opportunity to impress in the absence of several first team regulars.
Matt Doherty and Kevin Doyle are away on international duty and Sam Ricketts is injured from the team which started Saturday’s win at Colchester, while Aaron McCarey, Lee Evans and Anthony Forde – who may have been in the frame – also away.
That has handed Jackett with something of a selection dilemma not least due to the strict criteria surrounding team selection in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, but he is looking for those on the fringes to come in and impress.
“I do think one of the strengths we have this season is perhaps we can have a deeper and better squad than other teams,” said Wolves’ Head Coach.
“It might not necessarily count earlier in the season, but as the season goes on and people’s squads do get stretched – including ours – we want to make sure we look after all our of players very well and keep as many fit and available and hopefully that squad size will be worth points to us by the end of the season.
“We can do it with the selection criteria tonight – we’ll be around the six or seven mark in terms of the players they are looking for – but that’s where we’ll be.
“McCarey is away with the Irish squad so some of the natural ones who you might expect to come in aren’t necessarily available to us.
“But I’m looking at players like Ethan Ebanks-Landell, Jake Cassidy and Liam McAlinden.
“I can’t put all of them in for various reasons but there are players who it will be interesting to give them game time to see how they do.
“I don’t think there will be any surprises – there might be a slight shuffle around but the team will come from the group that has been there.
“Ebanks-Landell and Cassidy haven’t had games since Morecambe although Cassidy has made two or three substitute’s appearances, and McAlinden played in the last round.
“Those type of players are maybe pushing for a start or will be on the bench.
“There may also be opportunities for Foley and Elokobi who have been fantastic professionally and shown really good attitudes for the experience they have.
“Even looking at them last week with the Under-21s, they were two really good performers against Reading which should be commended because it’s frustrating for the pair of them after injuries.”
Two further players absent tonight are Dave Edwards, who continued his own search for full fitness by coming through 90 minutes for the under-21s against Arsenal last night, and Bakary Sako, not yet back to full health after illness.
“Edwards played last night to have a full game,” said Jackett.
“I feel after doing well in pre-season, the injury at Preston has taken him backwards and he needs games and he needs to play.
“I wanted him to focus on a reserve game which in hindsight perhaps I should have done before I played him against Sheffield United.”
Jackett meanwhile expects Sako to return to training within the next few days once the winger has recovered from illness and the uncertainty surrounding interest from Nottingham Forest.
And the Head Coach insists there is absolutely no problem with the winger’s approach or attitude in the wake of the recent speculation.
“Sako has been pretty down and what we have to make sure is that he doesn’t come back and get injured because his immune system is slightly low but we have enough time to build him up with a reasonable amount of training,” said Jackett.
“We have talked to him about the situation and the interest from Nottingham Forest.
“His own view is that he’s been very happy at Wolves and everyone has been very good to him.
“But he has to balance that with Premier League opportunities and then we were talking about the fact there has been no agreement between the clubs.
“We want to get him 100 per cent fit for a vital set of matches when he has recovered, and it’s important he gets himself mentally and physically right to keep pursuing our goal which is to get promoted this season.
“We have to make sure he doesn’t come back and pull a hamstring or something and is out for six weeks because sometimes mental stress affects you physically.
“I would say that I’ve found him to be very professional ever since he’s been here and when you sit down and talk to him he’s a very reasonable individual.
“And when it comes to the speculation, it may have been a big story but it hasn’t had that much of an effect in his performances because his impact on our season has been considerable.”
Wolves meanwhile are confident that Ricketts’s knee injury will not keep him out of training for any length of time.
“Samuel has withdrawn from the Wales squad after aggravating a knee injury he sustained whilst playing for Wales during the last round of internationals,” said Head of Wolves’ Medical Department Phil Hayward.
“With continuing treatment it is something he has been able to play through for our last few games but he aggravated the injury during Saturday’s game at Colchester.
“He will be sent for a scan today to assess the extent of any further damage but it is hoped that the problem will not keep him out of training for an extended period.”
Jackett confirmed that Development Squad keeper Jon Flatt is expected to be among the substitutes in the absence of Aaron McCarey.