Wolves playmaker Kevin McDonald was today backed to show the quality and class to beat the Sheffield United boo boys tomorrow.
The 24-year-old midfielder faces his old club for the first time since leaving them for Wolves in a £250,000 switch last month.
Blades fans were angry McDonald left to join a fellow League One club, accusing the Scot of chasing a more lucrative move.
McDonald has settled well into his new surroundings as he tries to make it third time lucky after two promotion near misses with tomorrow’s opponents.
And head coach Kenny Jackett believes the former Burnley schemer is ready to show Blades fans that he is ready to leave League One behind.
“I’m sure he can handle playing against his old club and will focus on doing well for his new club,” said Jackett.
“I don’t know what the reception will be for him but all I do know is he’s fully focused on Wolves now.
“He brings a lot of class to our midfield on the ball and I’m sure he’ll just be focused on us winning and trying to get the points.
“His friendships will I’m sure be rested and put to one side until after the game.
“Kevin’s had a good last couple of seasons in this division for Sheffield and he has the potential to step on and continue to improve.
“He felt it was the right move and the right time to move on for his progression in his career.”
Wolves’ stuttering midfield is currently the source of hot debate among fans.
Some have called for exiled Jamie O’Hara to be reinstated to help the team be more creative, despite McDonald being seen as the chief playmaker.
There is also a dilemma tomorrow of who replaces ballwinner David Davis, who serves a one-match ban after his fifth booking of the season in last week’s 1-0 win at Shrewsbury.
Jackett believes the answer to helping the ball move quicker through middle of the park is for the players to use McDonald more.
“We’ll need to keep working to get him on the ball because he’s ball play is really good,” said the boss. “I’ve been very pleased with what he’s done.”
Jackett also feels McDonald can add to his solitary strike at Port Vale and contribute more regularly to the scoresheet.
McDonald passed up an opportunity to shoot during last week’s 1-0 win at Shrewsbury when he opted to try to put Bjorn Sigurdarson in instead and the chance was lost.
“He can score goals and his driving through from midfield is very important to our side,” said the boss.
“There was a one-two on Saturday where he burst through the middle off Leigh Griffiths and put it into Bjorn, who had a loose touch and the ball just went away from him in the box.
“Bjorn certainly was surprised and perhaps it didn’t click, but he showed good potential.
“He could have been selfish and shot but if the pass had been right, then Bjorn may have had a tap-in.
“That happened all within a split second, but that type of creativity and him being able to burst through from midfield is something I think he’s very good at.
“He shows a lot of class in our midfield and has had a good start to his Wolves career.”
Captain Sam Ricketts can understand why Blades fans felt so aggrieved to see their favourite join Wolves.
“I can see why they’re disappointed he left them because he’s played very well for us,” said the skipper.
“He’s very comfortable on the ball in tight areas, passes it well and he’s got an eye for goal as well.
“He’s been a great signing for us so far and it’s clear to see why they didn’t want him to go.”
And Ricketts backed McDonald to show the temperament not to be rattled by any ‘stick’ he gets from the travelling fans.
“I don’t think he’s one to allow himself to get too wound up, but he’ll definitely cope with that,” he said.
“He’s a very level-headed player who at 24 is one of the more experienced lads in the squad.
“He’s a great lad too who’s settled in very well and is performing to a very high standard.”