Raise our game

Gaffer knows Wolves need a Royals improvement

Wolves Head Coach Kenny Jackett has challenged his players to raise their game when they visit Reading on Saturday (3pm).

Jackett’s men threw away a two-goal lead at home to Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night, and he both shared and understood the frustrations of the Molineux faithful.

He said: “I feel our performance level has to be higher, we need bite in our performance, and more competition than on Tuesday.

“We didn’t get close to Bolton and they got their own way too much, and that resulted in them feeding two good wingers who caused us problems in the second period.

“I feel that the supporters, if they do see a good performance, will get behind the team and we were labouring against Bolton.

“I don’t think it was a good performance and both myself and the players feel that.

“It’s our responsibility to give the fans something to cheer about.

“Our performance level has to be high and optimistic for now and the future.

“I want to see it dynamic, competitive and I want to see us work hard to break up the opposition’s play, attack with pace, go at sides and be able to shoot and strike as well.

“Tuesday was not one of our better performances and didn’t offer people encouragement, and we want to be improving on that.

“You want to finish seasons strongly and coming in to what is almost the last third of the season, we want to be one of the form sides and see where it takes us.”

One of Wolves’ goalscorers on Tuesday, James Henry, also scored in the last meeting with Reading – a 1-0 victory at Molineux on Boxing Day.

Since that game Brian McDermott’s side have won only once in the Sky Bet Championship and are currently four places and four points behind Wolves in 16th position.

But despite Reading’s recent struggles, Jackett knows that Saturday’s match will represent a challenge for his team, as they look to win at the Madejski Stadium for the first time since 2005.

He said: “They have a good squad and good players and they will certainly be looking to build, they’re capable of doing it with the squad they have.

“They’re a very good side with a lot of ability, as are many sides in this league, and it will be a good game.

“We always have very tight games with Reading and I’m sure Saturday will be the same.”

Jackett confirmed that he has no new injury worries and will therefore, be picking from the same group of players who were available for the match with Bolton.

It also means that Saturday’s game will come too soon for the likes of Kortney Hause, Emi Martinez and new signing Mike Williamson, though Jackett is hopeful that they will all return to training next week.

Their absence, along with Dave Edwards, Jordan Graham and Michal Zyro to long-term injury, has forced Jackett to ‘shuffle the pack’ in terms of selection in recent weeks, and while the absence of those players has been felt, it has provided an opening for others to stake a claim for a regular place in the team.

“There are chances and opportunities,” said Jackett.

“We’re looking for different combinations, formations and, with that, new strengths in the side, and new performers need to come out and take Wolves forward.

“There are different players that we have in midfield who we are looking to come in, similarly in our front line because we have a number of injuries but we are looking for the right combination of players, and looking to score goals.”

Another who has recently returned to the team is Bjorn Sigurdarson, who played as a centre forward against Bolton alongside new signing Joe Mason.

It was Sigurdarson’s shot that led to Mason’s first goal in Wolves colours, and during the match there were signs that their partnership is another combination that could prove fruitful in the weeks to come.

Jackett has declared himself happy with the Icelander’s performances since recovering from a back injury and believes there is more to come from him.

He said: “Bjorn is popular with the supporters and he puts a lot of effort in.

“I’ve been pleased with what he’s done so far, and hopefully now in terms of his fitness, confidence and quality he can build that up.

“It has been a big turnaround for him.

“Coming on as a substitute at Brighton and starting against West Ham and Bolton, he’s shown a good appetite and that he can compete in the air and also that he has some pace.

“On Tuesday we had Joe Mason up there with him, and you can see with the goal that having a second forward coming up closely behind really helped us on that particular occasion.

“So you know he’s had plenty of support whether it be from a second striker or the wide men.

“I’ve been pleased with what Bjorn has done in the three games, he’s contributed, he’s made a good start and will be looking to build on it.”

*Tickets for Saturday’s game will be available from the Molineux Ticket Office up until noon today (Friday).  They will then be available on the day from Reading, via cash or card, at non-member prices from the South Stand Ticket Office.