KING CARL RULES THE SIX YARD BOX

Wolves keeper plans new shut-out

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Paddy von Behr

LOANS and long af­ter­noons on the bench was Carl Ikeme’s path to mar­shalling the best de­fence in the Foot­ball League.

But as high-fly­ing Wolves visit Read­ing to­day, their in-form goal­keeper is just think­ing about the next clean sheet.

Wolves are lay­ing the foun­da­tions for a tilt at the top-flight, win­ning five of their open­ing eight league games and con­ced­ing just three goals in the process.

If that wasn’t enough to en­hance Ikeme’s rep­u­ta­tion, a penalty save in last week­end’s 1-0 win over Bolton prompted team­mate Richard Stearman to pro­fess: “I’m strug­gling to think of any­one bet­ter.”

While wait­ing in the Mo­lineux peck­ing or­der be­hind Matt Mur­ray and Wayne Hen­nessey, the 28Ikeme year-old racked up nine dif­fer­ent loan spells in as many years.

Im­por­tant

But now very much the man in pos­ses­sion of the No.1 shirt, Ikeme – along with a re­silient back four – is show­ing why it was worth the wait.

“I had to go around the block prob­a­bly one or two more times than I would have liked to but it was some­thing that was im­por­tant for me at the time,” he said.“It has put me in good stead in the long haul.

“We have had so many good keep­ers here, so that was quite dif­fi­cult but it was im­por­tant that I car­ried on play­ing and de­vel­op­ing and try­ing to im­prove.

“I hope we can keep it go­ing for the rest of the sea­son – that is what we are aim­ing to do. I be­lieve in our abil­ity

“There are a lot of good teams in this league. We re­spect them, but we don’t fear them.

“There has been a lot of hard work from the whole team, es­pe­cially the de­fend­ers.We have not had to chop and change too much in the last two sea­sons and I think that helps with or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“It’s nice and flat­ter­ing for peo­ple to be say­ing good, pos­i­tive things about you. It is al­ways nice to save a penalty as well – you don’t get that too of­ten so you have to en­joy it when you can.

“We did need the win and it did make our week look a lot bet­ter, but last Satur­day is gone now.

“I en­joyed it for the mo­ment but the next train­ing day I am think­ing about Read­ing.”

The Roy­als’ last two out­ings at the Made­jski Sta­dium yielded a com­bined six goals, with Ful­ham and Mill­wall put to the sword by Si­mon Cox, Glenn Mur­ray and Nick Black­man.

Ikeme is wary of Read­ing’s po­tent strike force but with the vis­i­tors’ for­mi­da­ble five – the goal­keeper be­hind Stearman, Danny Batth, Matt Do­herty and Scott Gold­bourne – on song, they may be in for a tough af­ter­noon.

Op­tions

“If a team loses a few games ev­ery­one thinks they are low on con­fi­dence, but this is the Cham­pi­onship and any­thing goes,” Ikeme added.

“Read­ing are a big club and they have good play­ers.

“They have good strik­ers and good at­tack­ing op­tions and it is go­ing to be a big test for us.

“Stearman and Batth have been bril­liant this sea­son. They have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence and it shows in the way they are play­ing.

“Danny is a good young de­fender and Scott Gold­bourne at left-back has been ex­cel­lent since he has come in. Ev­ery­one has been im­pres­sive.

“We have got a lot of con­fi­dence in the squad and we are go­ing into this game in ex­actly the same frame of mind.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

IN FORM: Carl Ikeme saves a shot from Bolton’s Liam Feeney

LOAN: Glenn Mur­ray

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