Gaffer on tough test ahead at Hull
Wolves Head Coach Kenny Jackett believes that the club’s recent good form will stand them in good stead when they travel to the KC Stadium to face Hull City in tonight’s televised Sky Bet Championship clash (7.45pm).
Jackett’s men have a good record against promotion chasing teams this season, and have proved that in recent weeks, by beating Derby County 2-1 at Molineux while also being unfortunate not to take more out of the 1-1 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor.
He said: “It’s been good and this is another game we’re looking forward to.
“We want the side to develop, we’ve got an unbeaten run which shows that we’ve got something, though ultimately it’s not everything that we want as winning games and scoring goals is where we want to be.
“We realise it’ll be a very difficult game against Hull as they’re a very capable side.
“We’ll give everything we can to get as many points between now and the end of the season and finish as high up the table as we can and also for the side to develop which suggests there is a bright future ahead at the club as we look towards the future.
“These are big teams to play and big games to play in, ones that we want to continue our unbeaten run.
“And we want to finish off our season very very strongly, and there’s no better time to be doing that on Friday night in front of the cameras.”
Wolves also won their last away match at MK Dons 2-1, another reason to be confident ahead of the trip to Yorkshire. It was the team’s seventh away win of the season, a good return after some initial struggles on the road.
Jackett said: “It’s been tight and there’s been certain stages of the season we’ve looked like perhaps we could fall away, but we’ve gone back to being competitive and we’ve kept things tight, slightly pragmatic and I’m sure that’s been the case.
“We’ve seen then that the side has been able to build some confidence and try to go forward, although that on its own isn’t the ultimate aim.
“Perhaps you’re looking to go further and build on that to cause people problems and that’s our aim against Hull City, to recognise a good team, a hard game and be able to defend and compete very well.
“And on top of that play good constructive football to give them problems, create chances and opportunities to score goals.”
While Jackett is pleased with the team’s six match unbeaten run as well as the keeping of three clean sheets during that time, he has challenged his players to start finding the back of the net on a more regular basis.
He said: “We need to be better than three 0-0 [home] draws on the trot - while we’ve been working at clean sheets lately, there hasn’t been that many goals in the team, and creatively we’ve been struggling.
“It’s been tough to find say one forward that’s consistently going past his man and we’ve been getting many crosses in as well, which people do generally score off and that’s been a good thing. “We have got to make sure we’ve got people in the box with the type of quality to score our say last two goals at MK Dons,.
“The winner ultimately was a tap in from Price, but we still had enough people the opposition area, and the first goal came from a determined header from Saville from a good cross.
“So making sure we’ve got a player or players that can consistently beat their man, go past their men and capitalise on the early crosses that we do put in and getting men in the box.
“But three 0-0 draws at home, we can say if we don’t concede we don’t get beat, it is only a platform to build on and you want to build on it definitely.”
In a search for goals Jackett has tried numerous players across the front line including, off the bench last weekend, Academy graduates Bright Enobakhare and Connor Hunte.
Both players impressed against Blackburn and look set to feature more often before the end of the season thanks to their hard work in training.
Jackett said: “A number of people have asked me about opportunities for young players and over the three years that I’ve been here I’ve given many of those out.
“The young players and the players in the Academy have to earn that and have to be good enough to earn their place, and I was pleased last week with what Connor Hunte and Bright Enobakhare gave me.
“They deserved their chance, and they’ll be looking for more opportunities.
“When you get quality young players through and that is the key to it, it breeds the type of competition in your squad that then produces success.”
And given the impressive performances of Enobakhare and Hunte, Jackett has not ruled out more players making the step up from the Academy to the First Team.
He said: “Wolves has an excellent Academy and the kids have to keep pushing through and make sure they’re of a standard that can take the club forward.
“We’ve been a mid-table Championship side all season, and we want players and a side that can take us further than that and can compete and ultimately earn promotion to the Premier League.
“They’ve got to earn it in training and they’ve got to push the players in front of them.
“It’s an easy one at the end of the season to put young players in, I’ve been pleased with Hunte and Bright and that’s why they’ve got on to the pitch.
“And for themselves they’ve got to keep on driving forward and earn everything that they get.
“There’s been a high number of debuts and players coming through the Academy since I’ve been here and all of them have earned it.
“The lads who’re are here now can achieve similar and better, they need the determination and work ethic to earn that chance.”
“It is a very good youth policy with good people running it at Wolves.
“There are several players I think with a good opportunity now, to continually raise the standards of the club and take the team forward and that is the task of the Academy - that’s why you run it to breed young players to be able up to the upper echelons in the pyramid structure.”
James Henry scored a 58th minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Molineux when the sides last met back in August.
Since then Steve Bruce’s Tigers have been a consistent feature in the race for the Premier League, though a recent run of two wins in 10 matches has put a dent in their hopes of achieving automatic promotion.
Despite their recent run, Jackett knows that Hull will provide a tough test for his young team.
Jackett said: “I can’t speak for Hull and I can’t speak for their manager but it does look like it’s the play offs for them.
“It’s quite a gap between them and the top two and I’m sure they’ll keep going, but the play offs is a good achievement.
“Hull have a good squad that’s expensively assembled, coming out of the Premier League and every aspiration to try to get back there and if you have to do it in the play offs rather than automatic then I’m sure they’ll be determined to do that.”
Meanwhile Jackett confirmed that there are no fresh injury worries ahead of the game, and that winger Jed Wallace will return to action at some point over the next fortnight.
*Tickets are available for Wolves fans on the gate at the KC Stadium tonight.
Winning games and scoring goals is where we want to be