The FA Cup incentive is clear for John Ruddy and Wolves this weekend, as they take on Bristol City for a place in the quarter-final.
The goalkeeper, who has featured in all three FA Cup ties this season, wants Wolves to combine the positives they showed against Liverpool and Shrewsbury Town at Ashton Gate on Sunday. Ruddy is fully aware of the stern test ahead, with the Robins in fantastic form, but knows the award further down the line in the FA Cup is a big one.
On differing FA Cup qualities
“I don’t think a lot was expected of us against Liverpool, a sort of free game, because whatever team Liverpool put out it’s going to be strong, but I thought we controlled the game and played really well, and showed the other side of us against Shrewsbury in the two games, where we showed a bit of bite and character.
“Now we have to take both of those aspects into the game against a very good Bristol City side. Progression is the aim and then who knows where it takes us? We’re two games away from Wembley so the carrot is there and we have to make sure we grab it.”
On a classic FA Cup tie
“There’s a few about this weekend. You look at the fixtures and there’s a couple of possible banana skins and we fall into that category. Bristol City are on a great run of form, unbeaten at home since November, so we’re under no allusions that it’s going to be a tough game. We have to make sure we’re fully on it to make sure we get through to the next round.
“We’ve learnt a lot of lessons from the Shrewsbury games. We showed great character in the first one to score when we did and, again, great character to bounce back at home. I was disappointed on a personal note over the two games but it’s an opportunity to put it to bed and look forward to another game. We’ll try to make it a little bit easier for ourselves this weekend.”
On Bristol City
“Lee’s been there quite a few years and obviously as a player before that. He’s implemented his ideas and has been backed by the club. He’s brought in the players he feels play his style to the best of their ability and he’s done really well over the past couple of years. They were unfortunate to miss out on the Play-Offs last year, but they’re fighting again this year and no doubt they’ll be there or thereabouts again this season.”
On the FA Cup opening up
“There’s a lot been made of teams possibly not taking it as seriously as they may have, but with the squad we’ve got, we’ve touched on it many times, we’ve only got a small squad, and everyone is involved to some extent somewhere along the line. We’re confident in the group of players we’ve got and confident any team we put out can go and do the job.”
On the dream of reaching Wembley
“It only enhanced the hunger with the performance we had at Wembley against Tottenham this season. I’ve been fortunate enough to play in front of a full house at Wembley in a Play-Off final, so to be able to say I’ve done it in an FA Cup semi-final or hopefully final would be fantastic, but we take it a game at a time and we look no further than Bristol City and another tough challenge ahead of us.”
On excitement the FA Cup creates
“Seasons like this season are tremendous for the fans. Obviously, last year we had a superb year and we’ve built on that coming into this season. The fans have bought into everything we’ve tried to do, the manager, staff and club itself, and they’re reaping the rewards as well with the good performances we’ve showed on the pitch.
“In the league and cup we’re progressing well, now it’s an important time in the cup to try and put a run together. As we’ve seen with the teams left in it, with the teams that have already gone out, we’ve got very a good chance of putting something together.”