Collins | On making semi-finals, Campbell maturing and Harkin's new deal

James Collins praised a professional performance from his Wolves under-23s as Chem Campbell’s goal secured a place in the Premier League Cup semi-finals at the expense of Peterborough United.

The head coach was delighted by how his players were able to dig out a result against a side full of Championship experience as the development side look to make it a successful end to the 2021/22 season in both league and cup – which includes a double header at Molineux against Newcastle United and Stoke City in the next fortnight.

On victory against the Posh

“We wanted to get the win, but we also want a good performance. We went to Peterborough on Sunday, against a team who had six players who play regularly in the Championship, and for a young side, it was a real challenge for us, and I thought the boys put in a really professional performance.

“We defended very well, we were hard to get through and we really limited their chances. We played some really good football in possession, we pulled them around and made it hard for them to get us, and then we took our chance when it came.

“There weren’t many chances in the game, but I thought we had the better ones and it was a really professional performances against really experienced players. When I saw the team, I knew it was going to be a tough game, but I thought the boys responded to that and came away with the result they deserved.”

Campbell seals semi-final spot | Peterborough United 0-1 Wolves | PL Cup Highlights

Reaching the semi-finals

“A game like Sunday are games that we want. We went away to a Championship ground, in front of a crowd, against experienced players and it was about how our players cope.

“You only get experience to those situations by getting through the rounds. If our lads would’ve been knocked out at the group stages, they wouldn’t have had this experience on Sunday, so all we want to get as far as we can and progress as much as we can.

“The only way you can do this, is by playing matches, so any opportunity for another game means greater experiences for the players.”

Campbell scoring two days after Premier League debut

“Grown is the right word to describe Chem. He’s matured as a man and that has really been a pleasure to see. He’s always been a very talented boy, but sometimes it takes the really talented boys time to realise that it’s not just talent that gets you through.

“Chem might have been guilty of that when he was 16 or 17, but he’s now putting it all together and having an impact on games with goals and assists, and he’s also willing to do the work for the team out of possession.

“I think he’s still got a bit to do, but he’s made great progress, so I was delighted for him to earn his Premier League debut.”

Marques winning PL2 Play of the Month

“Like all our players, Christian is on a rollercoaster journey and part of that journey is to go out on loan and although you want it to go well, it didn’t for Christian. He wanted to go out and play every week and do well to get him off and running, but it didn’t work out that way.

“He came back and it shocked him a little bit and he found it tough, but he was the first to admit that, but he’s really shown maturity in recent months and has really got himself going. He’s got his rewards for his hard work, for knuckling down and putting his egos to one side to keep improving.

“In the last month, him and Lee [Harkin] both getting nominated for the PL2 Player of the Month award was great, and for one of our boys to win it was brilliant and thoroughly deserved.”

Harkin’s new contract

“Lee’s been a brilliant example of professionalism. He wasn’t in the team at the start of the season and probably felt he was second, third or fourth choice striker. We had Austin [Samuels] and then we had Conor [Carty], and he might have felt like he wasn’t going to ger a lot of football, but that didn’t impact how he trained, how hard he worked and it didn’t effect the effort he put into all aspects of the job.

“When players do that, rewards come. He got his opportunity and he took his opportunity and he’s been excellent. He’s almost the first name on the teamsheet now because without the ball, he starts our press very well, he triggers it very well and he’s willing to do the work for the team.

“If you look at the goal at Peterborough, it comes from him winning the ball of a midfielder. Chem gets the plaudits for scoring, Hodgy [Joe Hodge] gets the plaudits for his through ball, but none of that happens of Lee doesn’t win the ball from the wrong side.

“Those are the details that the managers and coaches notice which maybe the supporters don’t as much, so he’s really earned the right to keep his place in the team and hopefully he’ll keep progressing.”

Preparing for successive games at Molineux

“It’s a great way for us to end the season. We had Peterborough at their ground last time, then we’ll have two games at Molineux on successive Monday evenings and then we’ve got Norwich away on the last day of the season at Carrow Road.

“These are all proper grounds and proper stadiums to play on and will all be good challenges for our boys to get used to playing on what they hope will be common for them in the future in their careers.

“Then, if we get to semi-finals and finals as well, hopefully they’ll be at stadiums as well, so we’ve got some real high-profile games for our level coming up and that’s when you find out about your players and they’ll learn about what it’s all about.”