Food For Thought

Differing Targets For Full-Back Pair

Matt Doherty…..loyal servant.

An interesting double-edged ‘sword’ has surfaced for the last two games of Wolves’ Premier League season.

On the one side is the question of whether the 32-year-old Matt Doherty will be given the chance to use the fixtures against Crystal Palace and Liverpool to force his way into the club’s top 25 appearance-makers of all time.

On the other is the continuing, intriguing possibility of 15-year-old Wes Okoduwa being unveiled as the youngest ever Wolves player in League football.

Two of the four games since the schoolboy was first selected to sit on the first-team bench have been at home to Arsenal and away to the other main title challengers, Manchester City, with a home assingment against relegation-threatened Luton in between.

But the heat is slightly off for tomorrow’s visit of in-form Palace – a clash of two clubs below half-way in the table but safe from relegation. Might this be seen as a more appropriate time for a raw youngster to be introduced, if indeed he is available and selected in the 18?

The two issues go hand in hand with he and Doherty playing at full-back or wing-back and potentially therefore hoping for a chance in the same role.

And there is an interesting backcloth to Okoduwa’s story; namely that Gary O’Neil himself made his League debut aged only 16.

It was on January 29, 2000, by coincidence a fortnight after Colin Lee’s Wolves had won at Fratton Park, that Tony Pulis gave the Londoner his first senior chance in a First Division home game against Barnsley. 

And, while we are on the subject of early starters…..a small piece in the Daily Mail recently pointed out that Paul Simpson was also 16 when he made his debut for Manchester City against Coventry in 1982.

Paul Simpson in pre-season action for Wolves in Salzburg in 1998.

The former Wolves midfielder was, in fact, barely two months past his birthday when his big moment came. He was born a few days before England’s 1966 World Cup final triumph and recalled in the article: “It (being selected) was a big surprise. I’d only made my reserves debut the previous Tuesday but John Bond threw me in and we won 3-2.

“My mum and dad came down from Carlisle to watch – they had been coming anyway, expecting me to play for the youth team, who had a Lancashire League game. Instead it was at Maine Road that I played, alongside legends like Dennis Tueart and Asa Hartford!”

Towards the other end of the age scale, what about Doherty? Despite having not appeared against City six days ago, he will still leapfrog Andy Mutch and Mark Venus and go joint 24th in the Molineux list alongside Bill Slater on 339 Wolves games if he figures against Palace and then Liverpool in the next week and a bit.


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