John Ruddy is calling on his Wolves teammates to ‘embrace’ the FA Cup quarter-final challenge that awaits them in the form of Manchester United.
Wolves have not reached this round of the competition for 16 years, while victory over United at Molineux on Saturday night would secure a place in the semi-finals, something which Wolves haven’t achieved since 1988 - more than two decades ago.
Former England goalkeeper Ruddy, who is expected to retake his place between the sticks, welcomes the encounter with the Red Devils but knows the tough test which awaits his side.
On the challenge of United
“It’s been a tough cup run, we had Liverpool in the third round, a couple of really tough games against Shrewsbury and then another tough game against Bristol City, so we’re expecting more of the same against a team which is arguably in the best form of any team in the country.
“But we’re looking forward to the challenge and we’re looking forward, again, to pitting ourselves against the best players and the best teams.”
On the quarter-final draw
“When you get into the latter stages of the cup, it becomes clearer as to who you can draw. When there were four teams left, including ourselves, Brighton and Millwall, you think ‘we might stand a chance’ – and then we get United.
“But we’ve still got half a chance, we’ve still got a really good chance. I think the performances that we’ve shown this season; not just in the cup but in the league as well, show we’ve got a really good squad, capable of battling against any team.
“We’ll look forward to it, it’s going to be a really tough game, but one we’ll embrace.”
On possible Wembley semi-final
“As a senior English player, the FA Cup still has that fairy tale feeling about it. No matter what people may say about the competition, to be able to say you’ve been to a final or a semi-final at Wembley is what you aim for.
“You play this game to win honours and we know this opportunity is within touching distance, but we have a long way to go before we can start thinking about that.”
On United's European 'distraction'
“You see the game last week where they came back for an amazing result against PSG and they’re fighting for the top four again. They have had other things on their mind, but we’re fully focused and take things one game at a time, like we do every game.
“Whether that’s in the league or cup, we take it game-by-game, day-by-day, to make sure we’re prepared and as ready as we can be, but they’ll be no different.”
On Wolves’ season so far
“This season has been incredible. It’s a testament to how far the club’s come under the ownership, and with the manager over the last couple of years.
“But it’s not been a surprising one for ourselves because within the group we were all quietly confident that we were going to be able to do something pretty special and we’ve been doing that.
“We were on 40 points with 11 games to go, which as a promoted team, 40 points is always your target. In this era, with the players and the clubs that have the backing and clout that they do, we’re right in the mix and we’ve given ourselves a fantastic platform in the league, and in the cup as well.
“We’re fighting on all fronts and it’s something we’re very proud of. We’ve only got a small squad, but we’ve got a really good squad and that’s come to the fore this season in both competitions.”