Advertising

Carl Ikeme ready for the Wolves promotion fight

Sport | Published:

Having been at the club since he was 15 years old, Carl Ikeme has witnessed his fair share of changes at Molineux.

Since the Wolves number one signed professional terms back in 2003, the club has had eight full-time managers – and now three different owners.

But, even having seen it all as a relative 30-year-old veteran in a young Wolves squad, Ikeme is allowing himself to get excited about the future at Molineux under Fosun and Walter Zenga.

"We're all excited," Ikeme told the Express & Star. "It looks like the new owner wants to get promoted pretty soon, so we're looking forward to building a good relationship with the manager and hopefully having a successful season.

"I've met Jeff (Shi) quite a few times and spoke with him – he's enthusiastic about improving the club in every way, even the training ground and the facilities, he's big on trying to help the team do well on the pitch.

Ikeme cemented his position as Wolves number one in the 2013/14 League One title-winning season

Zenga was the surprise choice to replace Kenny Jackett as Wolves boss, but has made an immediate impression with the players.

And of course, as a former goalkeeper of international fame, Zenga will be keeping a keen eye on his Molineux shot-stoppers.

Has Ikeme ever been managed by a goalkeeper before? "I think Bobby Mimms might have taken the reserves!" he said.

Advertising

"No, it's the first time. It's good for me because you never know I might want to become a manager some day as well so it's good to see a goalkeeper in charge.

"He has impressed so far – his ideas, his way of playing, his different philosophy.

"The new gaffer's settled in pretty well straight away. Obviously he's trying to get his ideas across, it's difficult for him coming in a week before the season started, but he's a good guy, he knows how he wants to play and I think it's just about, with everything that's going on, adjusting to the new way and new direction of the way the club's going.

"Everybody's been asking me about having a goalkeeper in charge. But it's not as if he's managing my sessions! Pat Mountain's done a great job since he's been here.

Advertising

"He'll always give me some pointers, as any manager would.

"But yeah I've been impressed. He's willing to go with the team as well. He knows what he wants but he'll be talking to us at the back asking what we think. He's keen on other people's input and is keen for us all to work together.

"I was a bit young (to remember him), I just missed his era. My dad obviously knows of him. As soon as it happened I checked up - he had a great club career and for his country as well."

Like any player, Ikeme has ambitions of Premier League football - an ambition he desperately wants to realise with Wolves.

After a turbulent start to last season when he was dropped in favour of Emiliano Martinez, Ikeme is now firmly entrenched as the Wolves number one.

He's also - in a notion that would have seemed outlandish just a year ago - first-choice for Nigeria too, after establishing himself ever since his first call-up last September.

So who knows – in two years' time Ikeme could be a Premier League number one with Wolves, and a World Cup goalkeeper with Nigeria.

"If you offered me that in two years' time I think I'll take it!" he said.

"That's been my ambition for a while, to play in the Premier League, and it's not changed.

"Hopefully I'll go to a World Cup as well. I'm taking it one season at a time and one game at a time, that's what I always do.

"It's been a crazy year with Nigeria, we've had quite a few changes.

"We all want to qualify for Russia and that's the main goal.

"We've got so many good players in the squad, we just need to settle down a bit, work with the new manager and qualify.

"I believe we can do it. Every time I go there, there's so much talent in the squad.

"Even the players that are based in Nigeria - there's talent everywhere."

Sutton Coldfield-born Ikeme is one of three of the Wolves 'old guard' whose contracts expire next summer, along with Danny Batth and David Edwards.

Ikeme graduated from Wolves academy in 2003

He said of the latest situation: "There have been discussions with Kev (Kevin Thelwell) but I understand it's a busy time at the moment for them upstairs.

"There's no rush. I sat down with Kev a few weeks ago and mentioned it, but we're been linked with everybody at the moment so they're pretty busy."

Not many links with goalkeepers though? "You never know, that might be why he's not got back to me!" he said.

"No, I understand the position. I'm sure we'll sit down and discuss it.

"Obviously I'd rather it was sorted sooner rather than later, but there's no rush.

"I've been here for a long time. Sometimes people don't like being at the same club for a long time...I've been since I was 15 and the club means a lot to me.

"There's always going to be something special about Wolves for me. It'll always be my club.

"The new direction they're going in, it'd be nice to stay, but who knows in football as things can change."

First things first though – a home game against Reading tomorrow.

Wolves endured a desperately disappointing Molineux campaign last season, winning just seven of 23 matches and scoring only 26 goals.

Ikeme knows the importance of a solid home record if Wolves are to have any ambitions of promotion.

"It's going to be a tough game, Reading have started well," he said.

"But with the new era at the club we want to make Molineux a better place than we did last season, obviously we didn't get many wins last year.

"We want to make it a fortress and a tough place to go to.

"We had a lot of draws – we want to change that to wins and get the fans buzzing again.

"Every club in this league bar a few will be saying let's have a go for promotion.

"We've probably got a better chance because the squad was quite thin and now we've got a few new bodies in. We fancy our chances but it's not going to be easy.

"We're looking forward to the fight."

Advertising

Top Stories

Advertising

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News