A sensational debut strike, 15 first-team appearances and an international call-up have made Ryan Giles’ loan at Shrewsbury Town a roaring success so far.
A star in Wolves’ under-23s promotion-winning side of 2018/19, Giles followed a number of team mates in searching for a new challenge in the summer, which arose in the form of a season-long loan with League One side Shrewsbury. Under former Wolves captain and coach Sam Ricketts, in a familiar 3-5-2 system, Giles made the transition seamless ever since he arrowed a 30-yard stunner into the top corner to earn the Shrews victory over Portsmouth on his debut. September saw England under-20s come calling and, once again, the teenage wing-back impressed. Having returned from injury in Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Bradford City, Giles is looking for continued positivity in Shropshire.
It’s going well. I’ve played a lot of league games so far and to straight away get game time is a massive positive for me and my development. It’s completely different to what I’ve been used to and it’s a challenge I needed, being around a first-team environment and playing a game I’m not used to as much, with a lot of first and second balls. It’s been very good so far, I’ve just got to keep getting as many games under my belt as I can and keep learning.
Shrewsbury play the exact same formation as Wolves, it’s mirrored. It’s different in some aspects, but I’m still getting experience in a wing-back position. It’s good because I’m not going away, playing a different position and coming back to Wolves having not played the role for a year.
Playing league football is a massive step up from the under-23s, with respect. You have to win in this environment and I’ve improved in that sense. In the under-23s it’s different, there’s a lot of development involved, and you can focus more on your individual performance, there is less focus on results, whereas a first-team environment is all about winning. I’m playing against bigger, stronger players and maybe having to do things differently is going to make me better. All these different experiences so far have really helped me push on and I want to keep going.
I think I underestimated it a lot. I had a little stint in the National League North when I was 18 at Telford and learnt you can go to any league in England and it’s never going to be an easy ride. Every player in League One has ability and you can see it when you’re playing, every team poses something different. Some teams want to play football, some play more physically, so playing against different opposition is perfect for a player like myself, that’s what I need.
He’s brilliant. He’s a fantastic football coach and a role model off the pitch. He’s had a lot of experience throughout his career and can give advice. He’s liked by all the players, they all want to work for him, and he’s a delight to have as a manager. I want to keep putting in performances for him and showing him I want to win.
Portsmouth was a perfect example of the physical, long ball game. I came off at half-time thinking ‘I’ve never been in a game of football like that in my life’. It was a serious battle. For the first 65 minutes, before I scored, it was tough and not something I was used to. I was thinking ‘wow, is this what League One’s all about’. Then to score was nice, I couldn’t describe the feeling, I think my celebration said it all. It was fantastic and to win the game thanks to my goal topped it off.
I’ve spoke to a lot of the staff and they’ve been great. The sports science are on top of my GPS, monitoring what I’ve been doing away from the club. Seyi (Olofinjana) and Sean (Parrish) have been down to watch, I’ve been in contact a lot with Wolves and they’ve been really good. They’ve shown they’re keen to see how I’m getting on and not leave me to one side, which has been nice – they actually do care.
It was one of the highlights of my career so far to get called up. It meant an awful lot, not just to me, but my family as well. I take a lot of pride in playing for England. It was a shock, I wasn’t expecting it, but when I got the text through to say I got called up, it took me a few minutes to realise what was going on. I was a bit shocked to be honest. To go out there for ten days, with boys I’ve played against but not with, was a great experience. It was a good learning curve to playing under a new system too.
To put that England shirt on means an awful lot to any player and I was very proud, and I got my two caps out there. If I’d have said beforehand that I’d go out there, be involved in both games and for us not to lose, I’d have taken it all day. I couldn’t have asked for any more, I was very proud and hopefully I get more opportunities.