10 Aug Matt Doherty keen for Wolves to set early European marker at Leicester
Defender Matt Doherty insists Wolves must lay down an early marker in the race for Europe.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s open their Premier League campaign at Leicester on Sunday with the Foxes expected to be one of their main rivals for a Europa League place at the end of the season.
Wolves finished seventh last term to qualify for Europe for the first time since 1980 and they beat FC Pyunik 4-0 in Armenia in the third qualifying round first leg on Thursday.
Doherty knows Leicester pose a direct threat to Wolves’ European ambitions and wants to send a message at the King Power Stadium.
“We’re striving to finish as high as we can, we have the same ambitions (as Leicester) and we want to get as good a start as possible and they’ll be thinking the exact same thing,” said the Republic of Ireland international.
“We played them quite early (last season, losing 2-0) and a lot of us were new to the league, but this time around, with our experience, we’ll hopefully know how to manage it a bit better.
“Personally, I had a sticky game against Leicester last season and I managed to bounce back from that, but you can never take anything for granted.
“I’m really excited. We’ve been waiting since last season, you go on your summer holidays but you’re waiting for the fixtures and to get back into it.
“Obviously, we’ve had a long pre-season and it’s been quite tough, but we’re ready to go on Sunday.”
Boss Nuno Espirito Santo has said Wolves have done everything they can to avoid suffering the effects of the 6,430-mile round trip to Yerevan.
Doherty has also echoed his manager and team-mates and believes they have to embrace the challenge.
“We’re getting to play all over Europe, in different countries and atmospheres, it’s what you want to do, play in European football,” he said.
“You want to go as far as you can and challenge in these competitions and prove yourself against the best players.
“The ambition of the club is to be successful and the Europa League goes a long way in that.”
Doherty missed a chunk of pre-season with a knee injury but returned in Armenia to score the opener and will be available at the King Power Stadium.
He added: “I feel fit. Obviously, I’m probably not up the level of fitness as the rest of the lads, but I don’t think it will take me long to get into that shape.
“I had 60 minutes on Thursday where I felt OK and, the way the schedule is, we have a lot of games coming up so I’m sure I’ll be able to get enough game time to catch up fast.”