Disappointed but unbowed, Wallace will come back stronger
Jed Wallace has admitted he is more frustrated than disappointed at picking up an injury when in full flow against Burnley – but will use his spell on the sidelines to return even stronger.
The versatile midfielder, who turns 22 tomorrow, showed all the benefits of his recent loan spell at Millwall, and some additional physical strength, with a hugely impressive display against the leader leaders before being forced off in the closing stages.
A torn quad muscle means an absence of four to six weeks, leaving an outside chance of playing again this season, but whatever happens Wallace has renewed confidence of being able to make a big impact at Wolves.
“I think I am frustrated more than disappointed,” he says.
“I went out to Millwall and worked really hard to find my form and the momentum that I had built in the last three years at Portsmouth.
“I came back and felt really good, in the best shape I have been for 18 months.
“I played well, really enjoyed it and felt like I was contributing to a really good team performance.
“I made one of a number of sprints in behind and then felt my quad go a little bit.
“It is the first time I have ever had a muscle injury and it’s frustrating - I couldn’t really believe it.
“I had the injury when I first came to Wolves but then this one came after 13 or 14 weeks feeling really good at Millwall.
“Then I’m sat in the dressing room with my head in my hands and I hear the cheer!
“I have to look at it on the positive and work on a few things I need to work on in the gym.
“My friends Jordan Graham and Nouha Dicko are out for a long time and have still got a way to go and mine is four to six weeks so while it is frustrating you also have to be realistic.
“It’s part of football and I’m looking forward to coming back stronger than I was at Burnley.
“There is still an outside chance I could get back this season.
“There are guys here who went to university and studied for five years and I will listen to what they tell me to do in the gym and with my recovery.
“You never know with these things – it could be four, five, six weeks – but if there is an outside chance I can play again this season, especially at Molineux where I haven’t played in the league yet, that would be great.”
Wallace, whose opportunities to nail down his regular wide right spot at Wolves had been hampered by some strong competition, relished the chance to get out to play regular football at Millwall and help the Lions into the play-off places before being recalled.
He believes it has helped bridge the gap between Sky Bet League Two and the Championship, and has renewed his confidence in being able to impress with Wolves.
“I think in football now, perhaps more than a few years ago, if you don’t play then you are quickly forgotten about,” he says.
“I was keen when I signed here not to lose the momentum and the reputation I had built up over the last three or four seasons.
“It didn’t quite happen and so the chance to go and establish myself at a top League One team in Millwall was something I thought could bridge the gap between League Two and the Championship.
“For me to find my feet again, enjoy my football at Millwall, then I was coming back and really hoping to make a big impact in the last nine games of the season.
“That is not the way it is going to work out, but hopefully I can still make a little contribution before the end of the season.
“I’d gone from non league to playing every week in League Two and I think the problem is when you are in the team every week you maybe don’t get coached as much as you do when you are in the Academy.
“I was playing every week from the age of 18 and was learning on the job.
“The gap from League Two up to the Championship is massive but it is closer in League One and we played Wigan, who were in the Championship last season, and others in the top six, and did well.
“For me to bridge that gap and find my confidence – I always knew that when I found my confidence and was physically ready I could play for Wolves and think I can make a big impact going into next season.”
Wallace meanwhile is also focused on continuing to ensure he is at his physical peak for the Championship battles that lie ahead, acknowledging that power is far more a pre-requisite of life at Championship level than lower down the leagues.
“If you have got weaknesses in your game you have to improve because there are always people out there working harder than you, especially to get to where you are at,” he says.
“I have spoken to the gaffer a lot about the physical side of my game.
“I never really needed that at Portsmouth because I could run away from people a lot.
“At this level, one below the Prem, there are a lot of talented players and a lot of big physical players who are quick and strong,
“For me to up my game by the five or ten per cent it may give me by spending a few extra hours in the gym then it will be worth it and I will be doing that in the summer again.
“I felt strong on Saturday, holding people off and the aerial stuff, it all felt a lot better.
“It has opened my eyes and I can see that there are a lot of people employed by the club to get these extra percentages out of you which you need in the Championship.
“If Tony (Daley) or the physios tell me something that is going to improve me then I am going to be the first person who does that.”
If there is an outside chance I can play again this season, especially at Molineux where I haven’t played in the league yet, that would be great