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Wolves keeper John Ruddy backs Max Kilman to keep stepping up

By Rosie Swarbrick | Wolves | Published: | Last Updated:

John Ruddy says it is no surprise to him and the rest of the Wolves squad that non-league signing Max Kilman has stepped up to the plate in the Premier League.

Benny Ashley-Seal and Max Kilman of Wolverhampton Wanderers sit on the substitutes bench. (AMA/Sam Bagnall)

Ex-England futsal international Kilman arrived at Molineux from non-league side Maidenhead in the summer of 2018.

The 22-year-old made his league bow at the end of last season but now has two Premier League starts and four Europa League appearances in his breakthrough season.

And Ruddy, who made a rare start behind him in the 0-0 FA Cup third round draw with Manchester United at the weekend, says his rise is no fluke.

He said: “We’ve known what Max has been about for the last year since he stepped up to train with us on a regular basis.

“He’s a really great lad. Max adapts himself really well and wants to learn and improve.

“He’s fitted in really well because that’s the ethos within the whole squad.

“Everyone wants to do well, to improve and support each other.

“Max is another indication of the dressing room we have.”

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Kilman’s opportunities have arisen due to his own hard work on the training pitch, an ankle injury to centre-half Willy Boly and the poor form of Jesus Vallejo.

Vallejo did not take his chances earlier in the season and boss Nuno Espirito Santo confirmed he will return to Spanish giants Real Madrid this month.

Left-sided centre-half Kilman is now battling it out with Ryan Bennett and midfield duo Romain Saiss and Leander Dendoncker to start alongside skipper Conor Coady against Newcastle United on Saturday.

And as Nuno weighs up his options, Ruddy says a clean sheet to a defensive player is the same as a striker finding the net.

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He said: “It (a clean sheet) means an awful lot. It’s the same as a striker coring a goal.

“It’s more of a team effort.

“We’re very disciplined and organised with our shape and we’re difficult to break down.

“With the limited chances they had I think that was on show.”

As Kilman prepares for more first-team starts, one young-gun who might be on the move this month is Benny Ashley-Seal.

The striker made his first senior start against United on Saturday, after netting 13 times in 17 games for the under-23 side.

But the 21-year-old came off at half-time due to illness and could follow Vallejo out of Molineux later this month, with a loan move to an EFL club a possibility.

But with fellow striker Patrick Cutrone’s future still up in the air, Ashley-Seal’s exit is on hold for the time being.

Cutrone joined Wolves from AC Milan this summer and is expected to return to Italy this month.

But as that saga rumbles on, Ashley-Seal remains a back up option for star striker Raul Jimenez.

Wolves travel to Manchester United for the third round replay next week with Ashley-Seal needed as they attempt to ease the workload on Jimenez until they can recruit in attack.

Thus a loan switch for Ashley-Seal would be favoured later in the window.

For Ruddy that United replay will be another chance to feature as he prepares to return to the bench for the Newcastle clash this weekend.

Despite a clean sheet against United he will make way for Portuguese shot-stopper Rui Patricio.

The Wolves keeper admitted it was not nice but he is ready when needed.

He said: “It’s not nice (returning to the bench). I’d like to play more.

“I don’t think any back-up or second-choice keeper in the country would say any different.

“It is what it is.

“We have a really tight-knit squad, we work for each other and make sure we’re ready, no matter who’s playing, whether it’s league, cup, Europa League.

“We’re prepared for every game and back the lads to do well whoever’s chosen.”

Rosie Swarbrick

By Rosie Swarbrick
@rosieswarb

Wolves correspondent for the Express & Star.

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