Wolves Under-23s are back in action tonight, hoping to continue their fine start to the season away at Blackburn.
Defender Connor Johnson is one of those who enjoyed some first team experience during pre-season, and we caught up with him ahead of tonight’s game.
The 19-year-old defender told us: “We are doing very well this year compared to last year.
“I think we have got the same amount of points now as what we had all last season.
“The progress the team has made has been good.
“We are all friends off the pitch which I think helps on the pitch as well leads to a togetherness on the pitch.
“Everyone wants to work for each other and everyone wants to succeed so it is all looking good.”
With things progressing nicely for the defender in the Under 23s squad, he added that the current team spirit is one that can take the club to another level.
“It definitely can carry us forward because even when we are not playing our best and we are down, we aren’t getting onto each other’s backs,” he added.
“We aim to keep encouraging each other and then I think that helps everyone because then we want to go again.”
So far this season, the under 23s have played five league games, winning three of those, and Johnson was quick to point out that the passion in the team certainly came out in the victories over local rivals Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.
“Before I came to Wolves, they were not huge rivals at this level, so it is quite odd now that I am here, it is more of a rivalry so you feel a bit more passion in the game, so it does add that little bit extra to the win.”
During the club’s pre-season, the young defender made his first start for the club in the 2-1 away win against Cork City, and he described the feeling of being involved in the game as ‘unbelievable’.
“I never expected it but Rob (Edwards) had said to me that how my start to the pre-season was good and that I had put my name in and around the first team so to be involved it was brilliant.
“It was a very good experience being around all the first team and to see how they prepare for a competitive match.”
And since his involvement in the first team, Johnson admitted that the first start has only made him hungrier to progress even further.
“Being involved in the pre-season, it has made me even hungrier to be in and around the first team in the future,” he said.
“Off the pitch, they are really nice, they tend to have a good laugh and that makes me want to have that as well.”
Johnson has also had the opportunity to train with the first team previously, and said the quality of players on show at that level is hugely impressive.
“I still feel that it is a step up because it is the next level, it is the next step for everyone,” he added.
“There is a better standard, a better quality of play, there is more speed to the passing and stuff like that but even just going down and training with them a couple of times, I can learn lots of things and try and bring that down into the under 23s and continue to improve in that squad.”
Having spent time with the first team, Johnson stated that the likes of Danny Batth and Kortney Hause have really helped him with his progression as a professional footballer.
“People like Kortney and Danny, they are always speaking to me, telling me how I can get better as a player,” he says.
“Even in training, Kortney would say to me that if I was a bit nervous just to relax and do what I normally do.
“All of the players really help, Dom (Iorfa) does it as well, Conor Coady also, they all help.”
When asked about his targets for the year, the young defender pointed out that he wanted to continue to impress in the under 23s squad, and also potentially look for a loan move come January.
“This year, I want to play as much as I can in the under 23s. I want to try and impress whilst I am there.
“If I can’t press into the first team during the first half of the season, then I will try and get out on loan.
“If I could get myself to a league team then that would be great, but if not, I will continue to play at this level.”