Matt Doherty heads into his first taste of a Wolves/Walsall derby tonight backing the team spirit at Molineux to underpin a successful season.
The Republic of Ireland defender is in the squad for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie before heading off on Under-21 duty later this week, and is keen for Wolves to try and build on the momentum generated by four successive wins.
And while insisting team spirit wasn’t necessarily poor at Molineux last season, he believes the camaraderie among a fresher group this season will help the team’s quest for success.
“The team spirit last season wasn’t as bad as people thought,” says Doherty.
“People thought it was terrible but it wasn’t like that – we just didn’t play well.
“This season we’ve got a younger squad and maybe there’s a bit more banter between us as a lot of us have played together here for a while.
“And because some of the younger lads are playing more they feel more confident in getting involved around the place.
“It’s all going well and everyone is comfortable with each other.
“We’ve all played together in the Development team and when you’re like that, and going to games on the bus, you’re always talking about wanting to play in the first team.
“You never think all of you will end up playing together in the first team but it’s happened for a fair few of us.
“It’s good for the club as well that a lot of the young players are getting a chance.”
Despite many friendlies against each other, Wolves and Walsall have not met competitively in over ten years, but Doherty did line up against the Saddlers last season during a loan spell at Bury.
On that occasion the match finished 1-1 at Gigg Lane.
“I’ve played against Walsall for Bury but not for Wolves so I’m yet to experience what the derby game is like,” said Doherty.
“But I am sure Walsall will be right up for it, playing at Molineux and I am sure their fans will travel in good numbers.
“It will be up to us to try and show that we can be the better team and win the game.
“We’re missing a few players because of the internationals but we have a squad where others can hopefully can come in and help us not notice the absentees.
“We’ve started off superbly with a draw and four wins in a row.
“For some of the boys to be going away for the international games with the team near the top of the league is what we all wanted.”
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