Leander Dendoncker insists Wolves cannot believe their Premier League status is safe until it is mathematically certain, as the team prepare for the final run-in of the season.
Returning to his club side having stared for Belgium in all three of their 2022 World Cup qualifying matches during the international break, the midfielder has reflected on an inconsistent season for Wolves, but the 24-year-old is looking forward to making the most of the remaining nine games of their Premier League campaign, beginning with what he expects to be a difficult clash against West Ham United on Monday evening.
On an inconsistent season for Wolves
“We have to try and finish off well. It’s not really been a consistent season for us, we’ve had highs and lows, we’ve had a lot of injuries as well. In the last two seasons we didn’t have any, or really few, but now we’ve had a lot this season, and to some big players as well, Raul [Jimenez] just to name one. It’s a huge difference.
“He was our best goalscorer for last season and the season before, so when you don’t have your best scorer, then you know it’s going to be difficult.
“But that cannot be the only excuse or the only reason, so it’s a mix of being unlucky at some points, having injuries, and it’s a bit of a mix of a couple of factors.
“We have to look forward now. There are nine games left and we have to make the best of it and see where we can end up.”
On Jimenez returning to training
“He’s been training for a while now, but he still can’t do headers and needs to be pretty cautious when it comes to the ball being in the air.
“It will be step by step for him and then we’ll have to see when the best moment will be for him to play a game and compete again.
“But the most important thing is that he’s all good now, he’s better and we all just hope that he will play soon for us.”
On being more clinical when chances arise
“It’s been a tough season for every one of us, but also for me. Last season I scored six goals, and this season I haven’t scored yet.
“It’s something that I really need to work on because I’ve had a lot of opportunities and I probably could have scored six already, just like last season, but I guess the luck was not really on my side in that last part of the finishing.
“That can go better for me, but apart from that, I’m just trying to do the work I usually do on the pitch to help the team defensively and offensively, at both ends. I just need to keep trying to do that to help the team.”
On being 11 points clear of the relegation zone
“Until we’re mathematically safe, then we’re not safe. We just have to make sure we win the upcoming games; we play Fulham next week and Sheffield the week after, and playing West Ham of course next, which we have to try and win as well.
“But we have to try and win the upcoming games until we’re safe, and only then can we say we’re really safe.”
On the impact of Tomas Soucek at West Ham
“West Ham have showed that they are a really good team this season. They’re consistency has been key for them throughout this season. I think every week they are ready to battle and have good balance in their team, and I don’t think they’ve had many injuries.
“I played against him [Soucek] last week for Belgium against the Czech Republic and he was doing the same over there, just trying to get into the box every time there is a cross and he’s the extra body in the box, which makes it hard for the defence because you don’t know who has to take him, whether it’s a midfielder or a defender.
“Then you have Declan Rice as well who’s staying there for the balance, so they have a really good balance in their team, a lot of qualities, and I think that’s why they are up there in the ranking as well, but we have to just try and focus on our own team.”