Matt Doherty says he is relishing the challenge of carving out a niche as a Wolves left back – as he acknowledged the team should have done better this season.
The right-footed Doherty has been impressive in the left back slot since just before Christmas, most recently against Derby when he saw a fine finish ruled out for offside before providing the cross for George Saville’s winner.
The position suits Doherty’s desire to want to get on the attack when he can and drive in towards goal knowing he is then on his favoured right foot.
“I don’t mind playing left back at all and was actually pleased to move back over there after the (Brentford) game at right back,” he says.
“It can give you more options going forward at times and sometimes it encourages you to play more as at right back, when you are naturally right-footed, there is more of a temptation to knock a channel ball or a clipped pass.
“At left back I know I have to be clever or try and go past people sometimes to get out of situations and that is helping my game a lot.
“It is strange because as a right-footed right back you still often come inside more than going on the outside which might seem more natural.
“But when I am on the left I am also coming inside onto my right foot as well – I suppose it is because you are wanting to drive towards goal.
“I have gone up the line as well and as a full back I feel like I know what I don’t want a winger to be doing when he is running at me so I can use that as well when I am getting forward.
“It has given me the understanding of both positions because it is different.
“I feel comfortable in both positions now and that is good for my progression both here and perhaps hopefully one day internationally.”
On his assist for Saville’s dramatic Derby winner, Doherty quipped: “Sav’s got two goals now – I can’t believe it!
“They were two good goals though and it was a great header.
“It was nice to see him finish the cross off as it makes you feel like you have made a positive contribution to the win.
“There are many different ways to contribute positively in a game, both going forward, defending, or in general play as well.
“But to actually see an end product to what you have done with an assist for a winning goal is very satisfying.”
Doherty was understandably delighted to see Wolves end their recent winless run in Saturday’s victory.
He believes that both quality and team spirit has always been there within the Molineux ranks, but that the key is producing it consistently if the team are to improve on a mixed season so far.
“We desperately needed the win after not winning in seven and losing three on the bounce,” he says.
“We kind of felt like we needed to win the game and even a draw wasn’t really going to do anything for us.
“We managed to do that and it was a good performance as well.
“We didn’t just win ugly, we won with a good performance and we deserved it.
“The change in formation helped us.
“When we play like that we are slightly more solid and that extra man in midfield helps us.
“The team spirit is always there, we know that, but we know the quality is there too.
“I think we are under-achieving this season and should be higher than we are, at least fighting for the play-offs.
“We haven’t been there and just need to concentrate on trying to win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season.
“When you look at the players we have lost and those who are injured they are all players who have been in the starting line-up.
“That is why you have a squad and good players who can come in and do a good job.
“It shows when we can beat a top team like Derby, and I don’t think we have been far away from that.
“It has just been about showing it consistently.”
Tomorrow’s televised trip to Middlesbrough will be as tough as it comes for Wolves.
No team has scored more than one at The Riverside in the Sky Bet Championship this season, but Doherty says Wolves have to relish the challenge as they aim to finish the season as strongly as possible.
“We have got some tough games coming up but have to be ready for them,” he added.
“The play-offs is obviously a very long way away and at the moment would look out of our reach but while there are enough games left and it is mathematically possible you have to keep that belief.
“You can get on winning runs and then confidence flows through everybody and confidence is huge in football.
“We just have to try and finish the season as strongly as we can and see where it takes us.
“Middlesbrough are a very good side and one that I said at the start of the season that would get promoted.
“I still think they will, but hopefully only after we have got a result there on Friday.
“We are feeling confident after winning a game and there is the similar feeling to when we beat Reading after losing at Sheffield Wednesday and then went away to Charlton.
“It is a game we are all looking forward to.”
*Tickets will be available on the turnstiles for tomorrow’s game, cash only, with no price increase.