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Preston v Wolves - five talking points

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It was two points dropped for Wolves as they drew 1-1 at nine-man Preston.

Despite laying siege to Jordan Pickford's goal for the majority of the second half, Kenny Jackett's team only had Kevin McDonald's brilliant 91st minute strike to show for their efforts.

Where do they go from here? Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers picks out five talking points.

An extra touch here, a delayed shot there, hesitating to cross or play a through ball - Wolves fragile confidence is there for all to see.

Certain players, such as Scott Golbourne and Rajiv van La Parra and to an extent Benik Afobe, Dominic Iorfa and Adam Le Fondre, are overthinking things.

Their instincts have deserted them. Rather than gamble on attacking a cross, players are waiting in the box for that perfect delivery.

Tenacious Preston were the opposite - forthright, dogged, cohesive and resolute at every turn.

Collectively Wolves are indecisive and playing it safe. What gets them out of this rut is victories. But in a classic chicken and egg poser, where will the victories come from first?

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For the first two seasons of Jackett's tenure the spine of his team remained almost constant.

Ikeme - Batth/Stearman - McDonald - Dicko/Afobe was how it went.

With Ikeme dropped, Batth injured, Stearman sold, McDonald and Afobe unsettled and Dicko injured, that spine has been decimated.

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Is it a coincidence that Wolves have therefore struggled for consistency? Of course it isn't.

A spine must now reform in this Wolves team and we perhaps saw the beginnings of it on Saturday... Martinez - Batth/Hause - McDonald - Afobe.

Whether Jack Price or Conor Coady become McDonald's midfield partner is up in the air. While McDonald and Price have proved successful together in the past, the latter hasn't done enough in the last two matches to displace Coady, who on his day offers more variety in his game.

But what is certain, and it's been a point reiterated several times already this season, is that Jackett must be consistent in his selection, and that means placing faith in a regular spine throughout his side.

"Right from the start we've missed him, definitely, both in determination, personality and in both boxes."

So said Jackett of Danny Batth's comeback before the game.

And Batth backed up Jackett's words with a solid performance on his long-awaited return to the side.

A little rusty at times, yes, but on the whole Batth showed what Wolves have so sorely missed - and nearly scored with an excellent late flicked header.

Kortney Hause got the nod over Ethan Ebanks-Landell alongside him and the pair must now look to form a dependable, reliable centre half partnership.

Successful teams are rarely built on anything other than a sturdy defence.

It was a surprise to see Rajiv van La Parra's name on the team sheet.

Deemed surplus to requirements just a few weeks ago, the Dutchman started his second successive game after a fruitless foray up front at Middlesbrough.

This time he was utilised in his usual right-wing role. But he didn't take his chance.

Van La Parra gave a lesson in ineffectiveness during an anonymous first-half performance and it was no surprise when he didn't reappear for the second half.

While Jackett was true to his word in saying post-deadline day that Van La Parra would be given a chance to prove himself, the fact it was at the expense of an opportunity for Nathan Byrne was difficult to comprehend.

Byrne, while not setting the world alight, showed promise in his 26-minute cameo, and on another day would have had two assists when laying golden chances on a plate for Benik Afobe and Dominic Iorfa, both wastefully spurned.

On the other flank Sheyi Ojo was quick, direct and at the heart of most of Wolves' good second-half play.

Ojo, like Wolves, has been consistent only in his inconsistency so far and, until his game management improves, is probably best utilised from the bench.

The time has surely come for Byrne, though, to be handed his first Wolves start.

For all their late wasted chances, Wolves failed to win here because of their alarmingly drab first half performance.

It wasn't at all apparent that they were playing against 10 men and in fact Preston continued to carve out the better opportunities despite their man disadvantage.

The second half was a different story and it is this Wolves that we need to see more of.

Jackett made effective substitutions and Wolves played with far more purpose.

Post-match the Wolves boss, and McDonald, insisted there were plenty of positives to take from the game.

There were a few, but the fact remains they mustered four shots on target against a team deprived first of one player, then two, that remains sat in the relegation zone.

With Wolves now 12 points behind leaders Brighton - and just three ahead of rock-bottom Bristol City - Jackett knows that four points are the minimum requirement from the Fulham and Huddersfield games in the next few days.

If they can reproduce their second half performance, and take their chances, Wolves will give themselves the opportunity to get their season back on track.

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