Gaffer expecting tough test
Wolves Head Coach Kenny Jackett knows his attacking players will need to be on top form when Preston North End visit Molineux on Saturday (3pm).
Simon Grayson’s men have conceded just 28 goals in their 30 Sky Bet Championship matches this season, something that Jackett believes is the ‘bedrock’ of their impressive return to the division, after gaining promotion via the League One Playoffs last season.
Jackett said: “It will be a difficult one. They are a very competitive side, don’t give away many goals, and have various ways of playing even within one game - they can hurt you.
“We’ve given away too many goals at home and haven’t had enough wins and that’s something that on Saturday we can do something about, with the right attitude, ability level and with the right decisions. We’ll be looking for a good win.”
Kevin McDonald’s stoppage time equaliser earned Wolves a point in the reverse fixture at Deepdale, a match that saw Preston go down to nine men following the dismissals of Joe Garner and Bailey Wright.
And Jackett believes that the fact that it took Wolves so long to get an equaliser against the nine men, further emphasised North End’s defensive prowess.
He said: “The dynamics of the game changed with the [Garner] sending off. We dominated without breaking them down, Preston have a very strong defence and you saw that on that day.
“They’ve done very well defensively this season and given people lots of problems, I’m sure this game at Molineux will be no different.
“They’ve had a good season after coming out of League One. It’s a tough transition but they’ve done very well.”
Another away fixture which saw Wolves dominate large periods of the game was last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Reading. And despite not being able to secure all three points, Jackett was pleased to see his team put in a good performance.
“It was close; it was certainly an improved performance on the Bolton game.” Jackett said.
“There’s always a lot to base it on, Reading are a talented team and it’s easy to see that.
“Getting results in the Championship is a big thing.
“And while we always want to win, getting a draw at Reading wasn’t a bad result at all, the performance was encouraging.
“There were more good things than bad things and hopefully that’s something we can take forward.
“But we have to keep progressing, we haven’t quite closed that gap in terms of the top sides and I do believe as a team we are not far away.”
One man who Wolves will be looking to in turning domination into victories, is new signing Joe Mason. Mason marked his home debut against Bolton with a goal inside the first three minutes, but was left on the substitutes bench last weekend.
However, Jackett has hinted that the former Cardiff City man could come back into the team this weekend.
He said: “I didn’t think the performance with Bolton was what we wanted, I understand that we were 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go but I thought Bolton dominated too many areas, and I felt that at Reading we needed to go with a different formation.
“With Joe being new, it was us getting back to what we know.
“But Joe is a natural goalscorer and will get goals, and at 24 his best years are ahead of him.
“I think needs to play right up top. He’s clever in terms of his runs and his finishing.
“Since he’s been here he’s played one and been sub in the other but looking at him in training, his finishing is very good and a big strength and it’s something we need.”
Were Mason to be recalled, that would mean another alteration to the team’s forward line, something that Jackett has done frequently during the season due to injuries and certain matches representing horses for courses style selections, rather than a reflection of individual performances.
He said: “Generally at Wolves I’ve played 4-3-3 and that’s been my preferred [system], but if I feel that we can make use of some quality players by changing that then I will do it.
“You always want all of your form to be good, but our home form, us being successful at home and winning games, us playing a brand of passing football that entertains is what I want from home performances.”
“Whoever we’re playing we always want to win and the focus is always on the next game but there is a development of a team both defensively and offensively and so in terms of playing style I want a fast, pacy, on the floor style and for it to be entertaining for the supporters that needs work it has to evolve very quickly.”
Goalkeeper Emi Martinez will return to the squad for Saturday’s match, after recovering from a thigh injury, though Mike Williamson will again miss out as he continues his recovery from a hamstring problem.
Another absentee is defender Kortney Hause, who despite taking a more active part in training this week will not be risked. Though Jackett confirmed that he is expected to feature for the Under 21’s in their Birmingham Senior Cup match with Solihull Moors on Tuesday.
Both Hause and winger Jordan Graham, signed new long term contracts with the club earlier this week, and Jackett was delighted to see the two youngsters put pen to paper.
He said: “Both Jordan and Kortney have made positive starts to their Wolves careers and we’ve rewarded them when they’ve been injured.
“We think it’s the right decision and now it’s my job to make sure that I drive them to increased and better performances and build on what they’ve done.
“They have good characters and I’m very much looking to working with them in the future. We’re pleased that they’ve committed to us and we’ll work with them to make them into what we believe we can make them be, which is top class players.”