Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 22 October 2013
WOLVES striker Kevin Doyle reportedly earns more in a year than Lee Johnson’s ENTIRE playing budget - but Athletic’s manager heads to Molineux tonight without fear of the opposition.
Confidence is high among the travelling party after a run of two wins and a draw against the division’s leading contender Leyton Orient.
Along with £40,000-a-week Republic of Ireland international forward Doyle, Wolves boss Kenny Jackett’s abundance of riches is illustrated by the fact that he can afford to keep the likes of ex-Tottenham midfield man Jamie O’Hara away from the first team as the club tries to ship him out.
But Athletic’s efforts against the division’s other current leading lights has inspired a feeling that the current run can continue — even against a club as well-heeled as that from the West Midlands.
“We have to be realistic, but without fear. It is no good to go swanning about like we are playing a non-league team. Wolves are a top side,” Johnson said.
“But our best game, as we have seen, gets close to the top sides in the division. We have to make sure we produce on the night.”
A continuation of Athletic’s stout defensive work is a must tonight, following two shut-outs in a row against Preston in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, and Carlisle.
“We look reasonably strong and we have been working hard on it,” added Johnson (pictured). “It is no fluke we have got these two clean sheets.”
James Tarkowski is treading a suspension tightrope, having picked up his fourth yellow card of the season against Carlisle. One more and he will be banned for one game.
Matteo Lanzoni, meanwhile, is back at the club after having treatment on a hamstring problem and is being assessed this week.
Should injuries and suspensions hit, Johnson has contingency plans: “We are a little light in certain areas so have people in mind if anything goes wrong. “We’ve got a plan for every eventuality.”
Striker Charlie MacDonald misses out tonight, with ankle ligament damage the worst-case scenario for the Chronicle columnist who was injured on Saturday.
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