Wolves under-23 head coach James Collins admits his side still have much to improve on when they head to Fulham in their latest Premier League 2 clash.
Having put together an impressive attacking opening 45 minutes in Monday’s Division 2 victory over Crystal Palace, the under-23s had to become more defensive in a second period to hold onto the three points, but Collins is calling for his players to produce a positive performance across the whole 90 minutes on Friday lunchtime.
On having time to prepare ahead of Monday’s win
“Our weeks tend to vary and there are some weeks where the first-team use a lot of our players in training, which is a great benefit for them, and other weeks, when they get players back from injury like they have had of late, we get them back.
“Throughout the week leading up to the Crystal Palace game we had three or four days with them all, which allowed us to do some work around the team, which always helps on a matchday.
“For us, the perfect balance is a bit of both; spending time with the first-team but also giving us the opportunity to prepare for the games, but we’ve got the balance quite well.”
“It’s obviously more difficult from a sports science point of view, with the fact that we’ve gone from playing two games in two months to having two games in a week, so it’s sort of a logistical nightmare from a physiological perspective.
“But from a player and a psychological point of view, it’s what we all want to do, and the boys have been excited this week, playing on Monday, having a day or two of recovery and then preparing to play again. It’s what you want to do when you’re a footballer, so the boys have enjoyed it.
“The tight schedule does give us less time to work with the players game to game, but we’d much rather have games because that’s where we see their development.”
On aiming for successive league wins
“We are always striving to be better and even though we did good things against Crystal Palace, there were a lot of areas we need to improve on.
“We’re really trying to work on being better for longer. We’ve had some good spells in games, but we’re looking for that consistency because that is what they’re going to need when they step up into a first-team environment.
“You go into every game looking to achieve that, and it will be the same again on Friday. Fatigue and tiredness was one of the reasons we might not have had as much of the ball as we would’ve liked against Palace, but that comes when you don’t have as many games.
“You can do as much fitness work as you’d like, but on a matchday, it’s different levels you have to reach, and it shows if you haven’t had much football for a while. Chem Campbell hasn’t played a lot because of injury, Jack Scott hasn’t played a lot because of injury, and the players tire.
“But it’s always good to follow a win with a win, and show that consistency, show you can churn out two performances on the trot.”
On just two points separating six teams
“It’s a really tight league this season, and without it being our number one priority, the players need a platform to play on.
“Promotions and play-offs semi-finals and finals at the end of the season are something that gives them an opportunity to be seen, whether that’s by our first-team staff or whether that’s by loans that they might need to go on at future points in their careers.
“The more exposure the players can give themselves, the better opportunity they have at progressing in their careers. Winning leagues and getting into play-offs is something where they can really put themselves on a platform and be seen.
“Obviously development is our number one priority, but it’s also important to win as many games as you can and see if you can compete in those high pressure situations, because that is what they’re going to have to face if they want to become first-team footballers.”