Wolves defender Sylvain Deslandes loving first-team opportunities
You get the impression you could tell Sylvain Deslandes any bad news and he'd still greet it with a grin.
There seems to be a smile permanently etched across the French youngster's face – and right now you can't blame him.
After a season in the Wolves wilderness, not making an appearance in 2016/17 and enduring a fruitless loan spell at Bury, Deslandes is back in the first team fold.
He appeared regularly under Nuno Espirito Santo in pre-season, playing in the 2-0 Carabao Cup win at Southampton last month and, after a few unused substitute appearances, came on during Saturday's 2-1 victory over Nottingham Forest.
"I’m very pleased and very happy – it’s been a long time," Deslandes said of his first league outing since April 2016.
"I’ve been working really hard to get back to the first team.
"I feel like I’m fully ready and a lot stronger and more confident as well.
"I had to be patient, keep working in training and getting better each day.
"I’m a patient guy and a hard worker. I just had to wait for my chance.
"I’m still the same guy but a lot of things have changed in my life – I’m a dad now and I’m married.
"I feel I’m stronger, I head the ball better defensively and my personality as well, I feel more of a man and people can understand me better. I wasn’t shy but sometimes I was waiting for things to happen.
"Now I do it – I make it happen."
Deslandes has seen plenty of changes during his two-and-a-bit years at Wolves since moving from French side Caen in July 2015.
He says it's a 'pleasure' playing for new boss Nuno Espirito Santo, whatever position he's put in.
"The club is different than before," he added. "What the club expects is bigger. It’s very good and very exciting for me as a young player to be part of this club.
"Training with all the players, the standard is so high.
"At Southampton I played left centre half and at the weekend I played wing back. I can play both, I’ll just play where the gaffer wants me to play.
"I’m happy with both, it’s no problem for me.
"Without competition you cannot get better. You need it to work hard, to give your best every day.
"It’s helped me a lot to have good players in my positions. It’s good for me as a young player.
"It’s going to be a long season, every single player in the squad has to be ready to play.
"It’s a pleasure (under Nuno). We build from the back and as a footballer you always want to have the ball.
"It’s really good for us and I think I learned a lot. He talks to me about the way he wants me to play as a wing back or left centre half, he really wants me to get better and he’s looking after me."
The youngster is a prolific social media user and has even coined his own hashtag – #LandOfSylvain.
He feels it's important to interact with the fanbase, particularly one as passionate as Wolves, which helps get him through lean times.
"Even when I wasn’t playing I enjoy the country, the club, the city. I’ve really enjoyed (the past two years)," he said.
"The fans as well have been very nice to me, even when I was not playing I received a lot of messages to support me which helps. I’m happy here.
"Everything, the fans, the history of the club and the ambition, that makes a difference.
"They’re always nice to me so it’s easy for me to be nice with them.
"I like being close to them. And my hashtag! They like to know how the players prepare themselves, how they feel before a game, it’s nothing for us to say we’re happy, we appreciate it when they support us, when they help us in tough times, I thank them."
Deslandes looks likely to feature tonight when Wolves host Bristol Rovers looking to reach the fourth round of the Carabao Cup for the first time since 2011.
"Since I’ve been here we’ve never done better, so we want to go a far as we can," Deslandes added.
"We treat every opponent the same way. We don’t care about the opponent – we’re focused on ourselves."