Nouha Dicko is confident he is closing in on a return to first team availability after over a year’s absence with a severe cruciate knee ligament injury.
The popular striker has come through two runouts for Wolves Under-23s and then another appearance in last week’s Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Chesterfield, feeling good and keen for more action to build up his match fitness.
After such a long absence he accepts patience must be the watchword, but is feeling happier that he is closing in on first team contention.
“I think it’s the right thing for me to be patient and play some more under-23 football,” he says.
“It’s been a year. Sometimes your body doesn’t follow straight away and I need to get used to it.
“So for my confidence etc, I think I need to play some more games here.
“Obviously I wish I could play now with the first team and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.
“I’m still not quite there, but I’m improving.
“As the manager said it’s important to get these things right and not to rush me back into games.
“I’m quite happy with it.
“Obviously I would like now to play with the first team, but if my body is not ready there’s no point rushing me back for two or three weeks and then pick up a small injury - I really don’t need that.”
Dicko was close to a potential return before irritation around the injury saw him require the removal of the staples inserted into his knee during pre-season.
But with that setback out of the way, he is starting to think more about the future than the past.
“It’s been tough,” he admits.
“At the beginning especially it’s really tough, but then after a while you try to think differently, with a different perspective.
“Obviously as a player you’re not happy when you pick up a big injury.
“It’s been hard but in the end it can make me stronger and a better professional.
“Hopefully it’s the last big injury for me. I’ve tried to stay focused and work hard. Now I’m there and hopefully all the hard work I’ve put in will pay off.
“Unfortunately I had a little setback which put me back for five or six weeks and it didn’t help as a pre-season would have been really good for me.
“I’m having a pre-season now.
“It’s been hard just to not play football, but that’s all in the past now.
“I’m looking to the future – and trying to stay patient is important for me.”
And patience may be difficult given how keen Dicko is to get involved in the exciting new era at Wolves following the summer takeover and arrival of Walter Zenga as Head Coach.
“To be honest it’s the first time I’ve experienced this,” he says.
“It’s a bit weird, you see all new people and the faces you’re used to seeing at the football club are not there anymore.
“All these people that came in have been really good with the players.
“And it’s good they’re bringing these players in.
“They’re showing ambition for the club and it can only benefit the club, that’s what matters.
"Hopefully everyone will see the same Nouha again, and I feel I’m going in the right direction."