Matt Doherty: Wolves can get into the Champions League
Matt Doherty believes Wolves can qualify for the Champions League after football restarts as they have ‘beaten a lot of big teams’ already this season.
With the Premier League term set to resume at West Ham in a couple of weeks, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side sit sixth in the table.
They are only five points of fourth-placed Chelsea while even fifth could seal a Champions League spot – if Manchester City’s appeal against their two-year ban for breaching financial fair play rules, which begins on Monday with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, is unsuccessful.
And wing-back Doherty, who has been with Wolves since 2010, told Indian outlet The Hindu: “Growing up I always wanted to play in the Premier League and now I get to resume living my dream, which is playing games and I can’t wait to get back.
“We were doing well before the break and I just can’t wait to resume and see where we finish.
“To hear the Champions League music playing as you walk out, that is really dreamy.
“We’re fighting on two fronts, in the Premier League and the Europa League, so a lot of things are possible.
“We believe we can qualify for the Champions League as we have beaten a lot of big teams this term.”
As alluded to by Doherty, Wolves are very much still in the Europa League as well – midway through a last-16 tie with Olympiacos, having drawn the first leg in Greece 1-1.
The wait to find out when the rest of the Europa games will take place goes on, but the Irishman is glad to have clarity on the league at least.
He insists Wolves will be as competitive as ever, too, despite the effect Covid-19 has had on the game.
“We watched the Bundesliga and nothing has changed,” said Doherty.
“Once the whistle goes, everything will be the same except for no fans in the stadium.
“We will still be tackling and be beside each other.
“It is impossible to be social distancing while playing football.
“Most of us have our heads around the fact that once we play again we will tackle and do everything we can to win and people won’t be shying away from that.”
Being used to playing in front of a packed-out Molineux, playing in empty grounds may be difficult to adapt to.
Wolves, though, have experienced a behind-closed-doors match recently, though – the draw at Olympiacos, just a day before football was suspended because of the pandemic in March.
On the experience, Doherty said: “It wasn’t ideal.
“It was a bit strange and the atmosphere between the players felt a bit flat.
“But I feel after one or two games we’ll get used to it and realise it is what it is and that we’ll be able to block out the fact that there are no fans.
“People might even be better because there are no fans and no pressure in the stadium.”
Wolves have nine league matches left to play, starting with the trip to the London Stadium to face the Hammers.
They also have home games against Bournemouth, Arsenal, Everton and Crystal Palace to play.
On the road, as well as West Ham, they have Villa, Sheffield United, Burnley and Chelsea to take on.
The last game of the campaign at Stamford Bridge could have a lot riding on it, for both teams, as well.
Doherty added: “To win all nine matches will be difficult but we come off the back of a win over Tottenham (3-2 in early March) and I don’t see why we can’t go and achieve something really special.”