Wolves head coach Kenny Jackett today insisted he will not allow Jamie O’Hara’s return to compromise team spirit.
O’Hara returned to action in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Stevenage as an 83rd-minute substitute for Bakary Sako.
It was his first senior appearance since last May when he fell out with fans at Brighton as Wolves were relegated from the Championship.
Reaction to O’Hara on Saturday was mixed, with cheers and boos aimed at him, although by the end of the game, more people appeared to be on his side.
Jackett has considered every outcome in making his decision to end O’Hara’s exile and will carefully monitor what effect the £5m midfielder has on the dressing room after rebuilding the team spirit.
“We’ve had the spirit right this year,” said Jackett. “The spirit and attitude of the group cannot be questioned in any game and that has to be the basis of any side. I will be watching very closely to make sure Jamie and anybody else is very committed to the team and to putting the club first, which sometimes in football we all forget.
“The club pay us wages to do well for the club – that’s the reason all of us are here. If we all have that attitude, we have a chance of being successful.
“It’s now very much down to him and how he does – how he plays, how he trains and what type of attitude he shows.
“If he can contribute to us getting promoted this season, it will all be worth it.”
Jackett believes the fans should relish the impact O’Hara’s talent can have.
“Left-footed players are like gold dust and they give you balance,” he said.
“Jamie is naturally left-footed and on the break can give us something creative.
“I think the reaction was in his favour on Saturday and I’m sure the fans realise left-footed players that can pass the ball like Jamie don’t come along easily.”
Wolves’ 11th victory of the season saw them remain second by three points but open up a three-point gap on third-placed Peterborough, who lost 3-1 to leaders Leyton Orient after being ahead.
Midfielder Kevin McDonald missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury that will keep him out of tomorrow’s trip to Carlisle. But right-back Matt Doherty, who has a similar problem, has a slim chance of being fit.