KING CARL RULES THE SIX YARD BOX
Wolves keeper plans new shut-out
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.
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.
“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.”
IN FORM: Carl Ikeme saves a shot from Bolton’s Liam Feeney
LOAN: Glenn Murray