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Team The Priority

Doherty would sacrifice awards for promotion

Matt Doherty has set his sights on another clean sweep of individual awards next season – although he admits he would sacrifice them all for a Wolves’ promotion.

The Irish defender was a proud winner of both Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards last season, as well as the Goal of the Season for his long range strike against Fulham.

He also enjoyed his first senior Republic of Ireland international call-up to cap what was an excellent second half of the season in a previously unfamiliar left back position.

Doherty will be aiming for a similar level of individual performance for 2016/17, but acknowledges that is the team that is more important with the aim a far better season than the one which finished in 14th place in the Championship.

“Winning those awards hasn’t completely kicked in yet – the summer has gone so quickly since that it is like it didn’t happen!” he says.

“When I go home I see them there and it puts a smile on my face and people will joke with me saying ‘that’s what happens when you are Player of the Year’ and that sort of stuff.

“So it does still feel pretty good, and fills me with great pride.

“I don’t think it changes a great deal, but maybe I have come back with a bit more confidence and that feeling of achieving something personally.

“Last year was a success for me but only really on the second half of the season when I played.

“But as a team we didn’t really do anything.

“I would much rather the team get to the play-offs – and then if I win the awards it feels a whole lot better.

“I’m just looking to improve in terms of my performances that’s for sure.

“My goal is to sweep the board with the awards again – but if someone else does then obviously that’s fine.

“I would sacrifice everything for promotion – whether that is via the play-offs or otherwise.

“I’d love to get in the Ireland squad as well and getting some caps is a huge goal.

“But the main goal, is to get promoted.”

Doherty says the players were ready to come back and get going with their fitness work ahead of the new season, having kept themselves in shape during the summer.

After fitness testing and a couple of days of football  work, the early morning runs start again today, with the big kick off at Rotherham less than five weeks away.

“The first few days after coming back were about the testing  - sprints and agility – and that wasn’t too bad,” Doherty explains.

“Then you have a time with the 7.30am runs but it is all about getting fitter and building on the levels you have when you get back.

“Before you know it you are back playing friendlies and everything is normal again.

“Pre-season is hard – but it is not unbearable.

“I rested my legs over the summer but I was working on my upper body and you do stay in some kind of shape.

“You can see how everyone is when they come back and they still have that physical strength.

“We are coming back and want to be in the gaffer’s thoughts straightaway because you want to be in the team for the start of the season.

“You don’t want to come back and lose yardage on everyone else.

“It is our careers and whatever we do over the summer plays a part in how we are going into the season.”