Kenny Jackett today declared captain Sam Ricketts will continue to have a big influence on Wolves next season – but not at his preferred role of centre-half.
Ricketts was one of Wolves’ most consistent players as they marched to the League One title but is expected to face competition at right-back in the shape of a fit Matt Doherty and also Ethan Ebanks-Landell, while at centre-back there could be a new arrival.
In addition, the club is hoping Richard Stearman will sign a new contract.
At 32, former Bolton, Hull and Swansea defender Ricketts is still as fit as ever, and as Wolves prepare to return to the Championship, head coach Jackett backed his skipper to have a big impact.
“I think he can; he’s a big influence and a big part of things and he takes the responsibility he’s given, which is a lot as captain,” said Jackett. “Also the flexibility he has to play right along the back four is a plus.
“He’s settled down and probably played more games at right-back than he has for years, which is arguably – and he’d agree – his best position. But either way he has the experience and the flexibility to play right along the back four and that’s a good thing to have.”
Ricketts has said previously that he would like to have another crack at centre-back, but Jackett doesn’t feel the Wales international will get much chance to do it next season.
“I think it’s something he’s had his eye on for a few years to play at centre-back as he gets into his 30s,” said the boss.
“When that is depends on the longevity of his career but he wants to play there somewhere along the line.
“He’s also played very well at full-back and the timing of his runs and his breaks from the back have really helped us.
“And his experience in some situations and his calmness has been very good.
“I don’t know exactly when it’s going to be. Is it going to be next season?”
Jackett is also looking to keep his squad to 20 players next season.
“I’m open-minded but if I can start with round about 20 players first off then right now I’d be looking to make that 20 as strong as possible,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be thinking which 11 am I going to pick, it’s not something I have to worry about now.
“I’d just get that 20 as strong as I can.”
As reported in later editions of yesterday’s Express & Star, Wolves target Conor Newton has signed for League One play-off finalists Rotherham.