James Collins is confident his players will embrace the Molineux atmosphere as Wolves under-23s take on Liverpool on Wednesday night, with a place in the knockout stages of European competition at stake.
The head coach, who will be sat in the opposite dugout as his former Crewe team-mate and colleague in Liverpool’s boss Neil Critchley, is looking forward to his own Molineux managerial debut in the Premier League International Cup and knows his players will be taking the winner-takes-all nature of the contest in their stride as they aim to reach the quarter-finals.
On taking on English opposition in European competition
“That’s why these competitions are so exciting, you get to play against the best teams in European competition.
“We obviously know Liverpool well because they are in our league, but it’s still going to be special to take them on in a European night at Molineux, and a game that everyone is looking forward to.
“Despite playing English opposition, I think the game will still have that European feel, but what it has got is that winner-takes-all outcome in the group, so that will add to the excitement.
“When you’re in a competition and you have to win the game, that definitely adds something to the occasion.”
On playing at Molineux
“What will also add to the game is it being a night match, under the lights at Molineux. It’s an iconic stadium and is something we are all looking forwards to.
“It’s not about me, but it’s a real privilege to be managing a Wolves team who will be playing at the main stadium.”
On winner-takes-all contest
“The players are intelligent people and they know that a win is a must if they want to get through to the next round, so it’s there and it will be on their minds, you can’t stop that.
“But they are also fully aware of the processes required to get that result, so the boys will be ready to play and perform how we know they can do.
“Although the situation will be on the back of their minds I think they will want to play well, they will want to perform well and they will want to represent the club well, and if they do that, the result will follow.”
On going head-to-head with Neil Critchley
“I’ve known ‘Critch’ since we were about seven or eight years of age at Crewe. We came through the ranks together there and started coaching as young players at Crewe on the same day.
“We know each other very well, have been through a lot together and he has been a massive help to me during my career. Even since I’ve started here at Wolves, I’ve asked his advice on what it’s like in your first few days at a big Premier League club, so he’s been a huge help to me.
“I’ll always be grateful for him, but on the night we will both be wanting to win. It won’t be about us, it will be about our players and whose team does better on the night.”
Season ticket holders, My Wolves, Young Wolves and #WolfPack member members can gain free entry into Molineux for the 7pm kick-off on Wednesday 29th January but must claim their ticket in advance by clicking here.
Tickets for non-season tickets holders cost £4 for adults and £2 for concessions. Corporate seats are also available in WV1 Bar, costing £10 per adult or £5 per child.