Kenny Jackett has praised keeper Carl Ikeme’s start to the season, and particularly his quick distribution to help turn defence into attack.
Wolves have conceded only one goal from open play from the first four fixtures, with Ikeme having made a strong start to the campaign as Jackett’s first choice.
The keeper has been encouraged to move the ball quickly to set up attacks where possible, and his first half kick against Bristol City saw Kevin Doyle win the free kick from which Bakary Sako opened the scoring.
In the second half meanwhile he made a fine double save from Sam Baldock with the game delicately poised at 1-1.
“Your goalkeeper is there to win you games,” says Jackett.
“People say your centre forwards are but your goalkeepers are as well.
“It was a very good double save from Carl at a time when the game was evenly poised and could have gone either way.
“He saved well from Baldock and then the ball went down the other end and their keeper made a very good save from Kevin Doyle.
“It was one either end which could have turned the game.”
Jackett continues: “Carl has had a positive start to the season.
“His distribution has been better – quicker and sharper – as well and I think that’s important for a team.
“I’ve spoken to Carl about people like Peter Schmeichel, that when they gather the ball, they’re on the front foot.
“You don’t have to hit everything long but you have to look to be pro-active and perhaps start attacks, whether it be a constructive early throw or this almost half volley which they’ve all got where they hit the ball low and send somebody away.
“It’s a threat and a danger and at set-pieces sometimes we’ve left two men upfield and said ‘we’ve got a big goalkeeper in there – come and get it and we can turn defence into attack’.
“We’ve talked about doing that, while the basis of Carl’s game is his shot-stopping and goalkeeping.
“But I think it’s something he’s needed to add to his game.”
Another positive is that Jackett believes Ikeme’s best years are still ahead of him.
He added: “He’s 26 and has had a lot of loan moves but a lot of goalkeepers do that.
“For Carl, at 26, his best years are definitely ahead of him, the next 10 years.
“He’s had a good impact on me since I’ve been here – he’s concentrated and worked hard and looks at present a good team man, which is very important.
“His best years are certainly ahead of him, he’s at a great age for a goalkeeper going forward.
“He’s been around enough to see it and know what’s right or wrong.
“Having good reactions and ability is one thing but the decisions you make are massive.
“It’s the same for a centre half – they’re decision making positions.
“He’s had a good start and like the rest of the team will want to settle down and play regularly and back himself to produce the goods which he has so far.”