Ki-Jana Hoever is hoping he can build on his first Premier League start for Wolves as the young Dutch defender enters 2021 by looking forward to what the second half of the season has in store.
The 18-year-old put in a performance far beyond his years during Tuesday’s last-minute defeat to Manchester United as he deputised for regular right wing-back Nelson Semedo, but the former Liverpool man knows that he has to be ready to step up to the plate whenever he is called upon.
On facing Brighton on Saturday evening
“We will just play our game. We know we’ve been struggling a little bit recently to score goals, although we are creating some chances, but I think in training we are really working hard in trying to fix that.
“We want to attack a lot, but also defend well. It’s not a great stat with the goals we have conceded lately, but I think if we just keep focused and training hard, it will be better and you will see progression at both ends of the pitch; we will score more and concede less.”
On his first Premier League start
“I was excited to play, and I had fun in the game as well, so it was nice, and I really enjoyed it.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game against a good team, but I think we played well, defended well, and it was just unlucky that they were able to get the late goal.”
On developing among several young players at Wolves
“There’s a good balance in the team right now between a lot of young players and also a lot of experienced players.
“We’re really learning every single game, but it’s all of us. I’m probably learning different things than Coady is because he’s got a lot more experience than me, but at the end of the day, we’re all learning together as a team.
“We will develop as a team and get better together as every day and every game passes.”
On being versatile in his positioning
“I prefer playing right-back more at the moment, but what’s the most important thing to me is just to be involved, play football, and be important within the team.
“As a defender, your priority is always about defending well, because that is your first job, but as a centre-back it doesn’t matter if you score, it’s just that you need to defend and keep the zero on the score, and if you score then it’s good for yourself, but it’s not what people judge you on.
“For me, I like to play as a right-back because of the attacking that I can do. I want to make decisions that can win you the game or help us to score a goal, so I like that I can be involved in the attacking side of things as well.
“I don’t know what the future will hold for me. I don’t know that when I’m older and have more experience then I might prefer being a centre-back, but for now, it’s right-back.”
On aims for the season
“I just hope we can get as high in the table as we can. But we don’t look that far in the future, we just look at each game as it comes.
“For myself, I just hope I can have more playing time as the season goes on, be there when the team needs me, and perform well in both the matches and training sessions.
“It’s just really nice to be a part of this club, it’s a really nice club and a really warm club – not just the players and first-team staff, but all of the people around in the building, everyone is really nice and really friendly, so it already feels like home for me.
“I’m just really happy to be here and it’s a privilege to play for Wolves.”