I feel my strengths are the ability to win the ball back, keep things simple and the team ticking over
Jim Kellermann was pleased with Wolves’ comeback in last night’s Under-21 game as they hit back to draw with a talented West Ham side.
Wolves fell behind early on but responded with plenty of quality and spirit and probably should have had more than just Hakeem Odoffin’s late equaliser to show for their efforts.
“West Ham are a young side but a very good side and it was a tough test,” said midfielder Kellermann.
“In the first 20 minutes they had a lot of the ball and went in front.
“But once we got over that and got our pressing right we started to dominate the game.
“That’s what happened after the first 20 minutes and we managed to get the equaliser but probably should have won it as well.
“We’ve looked at the running stats today and in the first half we ran more than the second, but that is because we had control in the second half.
“It was good for me personally to get another 90 minutes under my belt and to keep that match fitness up and as a team we showed good spirit to get back into it and play like we did.”
Last night’s game came almost a week after the team’s Birmingham Senior Cup exit, Wolves losing 5-4 on penalties against Solihull Moors after the tie had finished 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes.
Kellermann was one of the three Wolves players who missed from the spot, but will not shy away from taking another penalty in the future.
He said: “It was the best thing really to have another game coming last night as it gave us a chance to redeem ourselves.
“We should have put it away in 90 minutes at Solihull, it went to penalties and we didn’t. The positives were that we played well.
“I missed a penalty in the Southend tournament when I was in the Under 18’s, that sent us out. I hit the post.
“I will always take a penalty if asked, I’ll put myself up for one but I will make sure I practice first!”
It’s been a very frustrating time for the Under 21 squad, who haven’t won in the Barclays Under 21 Premier League since August.
But results haven’t necessarily told the story, with many of their fixtures capable of going either way, and Kellermann believes fine margins are costing his team more victories.
He said: “I think we have got a good team, but the last little bits are not quite there.
“The extra bits of quality, or working hard in the last ten minutes to nick it or see out a draw.
“We have got to get better at that, but we’ve got a lot of young players by 21’s standards – there are a lot of 18-year-olds in there and they will learn from that.”
Like his team, Kellermann has also endured a frustrating campaign. This time last year he signed a new deal with the club, and plans were put in place for him to go out on loan this season.
In pre-season he spent time with National League side Torquay United, impressing in a friendly with Plymouth Argyle. But sadly for Kellermann a reoccurrence of an old injury meant his loan move never materialised.
“I’ve had an on-going knee injury that we have been dealing with since my first year scholar days,” he says.
He added: “It’s tendonitis, Carl Ikeme, and Ethan [Ebanks-Landell] have had it. Michael Kightly had it when he was here and he was out for two years! So it’s not a nice injury.
“I’ve always been able to manage it, but this season it’s been a bit weird.
“I went to Sweden in October and had an operation which fixed it.
“But since I’ve come back in I’ve had other niggles with my hamstring and I had a kick on my foot on Tuesday.”
Earlier this year Kellermann also found himself in the unusual position of playing against Wolves when he featured for Shrewsbury Town in a behind closed doors friendly.
At the time Kellermann was on trial ahead of a potential loan move to the League One side, and while nothing materialised with the Sky Bet League One side, it was still an interesting experience.
He recalls: “It was a good chance to impress both Shrewsbury and the first team gaffer. It was weird to test myself against some of my mates but as soon as you start getting on the football pitch you forget about that.
“We play against lads who’ve already got released [from Wolves], they’re your mates but football is your job and you have to do it.”
Despite his setbacks Kellermann is remaining positive.
He has now completed two successive 90 minutes and he hopes he will continue to benefit from playing more regularly over the remainder of the season, whether it be for the Under 21’s or even a loan spell.
He said: “I feel my strengths are the ability to win the ball back, keep things simple and the team ticking over.
“I also like to help the younger players in the squad to lead, as an older player you’ve got to help the lads through.
“This season was a big year for me, I’d signed a new contract and the arrangement was for me to go on loan straight away.
“But when I can start to put together 90 minutes, 90 minutes and 90 minutes, hopefully I can get a back to where I want to be and where I think I should be, and then try to get a new contract. If I can go on loan, then great.”