Samuel Ricketts says Wolves must continue to deal with their status as one of the promotion favourites if they are to achieve their aim of promotion from Sky Bet League One.
Wolves have regularly come up against teams who have raised their games this season, but both Ricketts and Head Coach Kenny Jackett have re-iterated that was always expected given the club’s recent Premier League status.
And the skipper thinks it is something the squad should be relishing ahead of the Boxing Day visit of Crewe Alexandra (3pm).
“We have to look at it like last Saturday – Rotherham had virtually a sell-out crowd a few days before Christmas for a game they’d been looking forward to for a long time,” he said.
“That’s the sort of atmosphere and scenario we face everywhere, whether we’re at home or away.
“It’s generally the biggest game of the season for the opposition so we deal with that every week.
“You can tell by how much it means to teams by the reaction of teams and fans on the odd occasion when we’ve lost this season.
“The opposition fans, players and backroom staff react as if they’ve just won the FA Cup so that just shows how ‘up’ they get for the game and how we have to match that as well.
“It’s a good test for us; they raise their game but it’s what we relish.
“They can come to us and relax - they’re expected to get beat, they’re not expected to do well, we’ve got a fantastic stadium and the atmosphere will be great.
“But sometimes when you take the pressure off players, they relax and play to a much higher standard to what they would normally do.
“I think we’ve found that a lot this season but we’ve coped with it very well.
“As a player, I want to test myself and I like people trying to give their best against me.
“I’ve been on the other side of it as the underdog and you raise your game against the big sides - what it means is that, for us, there are no easy games.
“Now we’re the big side and we relish that – you have to show the opposition we’re playing against that there’s a reason why we play for Wolves.”
Ricketts now views the forthcoming fixtures with Crewe and Leyton Orient as a chance to try and improve on recent results and cement a spot among the automatic promotion chasers at the top of the league.
And he says any dip in standard or indeed application from the players will be picked up by their team-mates as well as the coaching staff.
He added: “If you’re not pulling your weight there’s not just the manager but as players we expect full effort and we demand it from each other.
“And if it’s not happening then something will get said.
“I thought everyone on Saturday really tried and worked hard and let their ability show.
“But if you’re not prepared to work hard, you can have all the ability in the world but you won’t be able to show it.
“If you look at the best players in the world, they’re athletes first and foremost.
“You have to work hard to earn the right to play and show yourself off.
“These games are now a chance for us to show what we want to do this season.
“We’ve got ourselves into a good position – we’ve just recovered from losing two games in a row and we’re still joint top of the table.
“So it shows just how well the first half of the season has gone for us.
“This is a chance for us to show what a good side we are and that we can really achieve what we want to do.”