James Collins is hoping Chem Campbell can build on his last-minute goal which helped the under-23s to victory against Fulham as the forward continues his comeback from injury.
After Austin Samuels had put the development side ahead early in the second-half, Campbell, in just his third start of the season having recovered from a spell on the sidelines, secured a second win in five days for Wolves in added time.
But head coach Collins believes the time away from the pitch has seen the Welsh youth international mature as a player having been thrust into the spotlight having made his senior debut at just 16.
On Campbell’s comeback from injury
“Chem has had a real tough spell having been a high-flyer getting in the first-team set-up early as a young kid. But he’s had a tough period which happens in people’s careers – there’s ups and downs.
“I feel he’s responded to that with great maturity. During the time he’s had out injured, I’ve seen the changing in him.
“You don’t make that judgement after two games, and we’ll see after ten, but in his first game back, his performance wasn’t so good, but his attitude and drive was excellent.
“Against Fulham, he got better and better as the game went on and he deserved his goal. Hopefully he can build on that and use it as a stepping stone. But he’s definitely showing the right attitude.”
On two wins in a week
“I thought we put in a thoroughly professional performance against Fulham. We had a meeting the night before the game where we spoke about three or four really important things that we wanted to work hard at, and I felt the players responded brilliantly to that.
“The pitch was probably as difficult as anything we’ve played on all season, so it wasn’t a day for tippy-tappy football, but I thought we handled the conditions really well.
“We got the ball in behind them, picked up a lot of second balls and when we did have the opportunity to play and pass, we did it well.
“The players have to learn to adapt to the conditions they have to play in, and I thought they did that very well.”
Crystal Palace (h) 3️⃣— Wolves Academy (@WolvesAcademy) March 1, 2021
Fulham (a) 3️⃣
Two games, two wins, a good week for our under-23s!
On making their dominance pay in the second-half
“After half-an-hour when I thought we had a really good first-half, I was beginning to think if it wasn’t going to be our day. I knew they were going to have a spell and that last 15 minutes of the first-half was that.
“Maybe we tried to play a little bit short again because we felt we had control, but that played into the opponents hands.
“But at the start of the second-half we got ourselves reset and started again, and I thought we felt comfortable from there on in. When it’s 1-0, the second goal always helps, and in the end it was a comfortable victory, but it never feels like that when you’re in it.”
On overcoming tough conditions
“I think I got a 90-minute performance from them, but it was in a different way. Some games are about retaining possession, passing the ball and gaining control with possession.
“Other games are about gaining control through territory and through picking up more second balls than your opponent, almost smothering your opponent out because of the difficult conditions and I felt we did it this way.
“We always want to play better football, we always want to pass the ball, and on a different day we would do, but for how difficult the pitch was, I felt our football was good and a really good performance from start to finish.”
On Samuels’ first since January return
“It’s his job and he knows that. His job is to get goals from between the posts. You only have to look at how many goals Calvert-Lewin gets for Everton, which are all one touch from in and around the six-yard box.
“You have to get in there, and although it sounds easy, that’s where you get hurt, but he’s in there a lot and when you get tap-ins like that, they don’t look like good goals, but they are.
“If you get ten of them a season plus a few one-on-ones, then you’ll end up with a good tally.”
On facing league leaders Leeds on Friday
“It’s always a tough game against Leeds. They have some good players and they play their unique Bielsa-style which is different from everybody else.
“They’ll play a high press game, going man for man right across the pitch, so you have to be ready, you have to be at it, and you have to be prepared.
“They’ll give you opportunities because of their style, but they’ll also create some opportunities, which will make for an exciting game. But I think the boys are ready.”