Saturday 16 December 2017

McCarthy admits his stronger side must improve

John Curtis

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has challenged his side to become more than mere Barclays Premier League survivors ahead of tomorrow's opening game at Blackburn.

Wolves escaped relegation on the final day of last season at Birmingham's expense despite being beaten in front of their own fans by Rovers.

It guaranteed a third successive campaign of top flight football but McCarthy is now looking for his side to establish themselves among the elite.

He said: "I don't always want to keep saying 'we only want to survive' although that's the intention of a lot of Premier League clubs to start with.

"I thought we could finish higher but don't start thinking that we're thinking we're a European team.

"But we want to keep finishing as high as we can and keep improving.

"I'm convinced we could have got 47 points last season and I think we can get to those levels this season."

McCarthy believes Wolves are a stronger unit after acquiring the services of Birmingham defender Roger Johnson - the new captain - and Tottenham midfielder Jamie O'Hara.

He said: "We're stronger this year. The players have had another year at this level.

"We're also a better team now we've got Jamie in. He wanted to be our player from day one.

"It was lovely the commitment he showed and he's had a terrific pre-season.

"Roger will make a huge difference to us too, personality-wise and player-wise. He's a big character."

McCarthy knows it is important to collect more points from teams in the lower regions of the table.

"We got through that second year and we had a great season. Despite the nerves on the last day, we got through it.

"Some people said we were lucky - but we weren't lucky to beat Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.

"We didn't nick any points, but we gave a few away and we know the importance of picking up more from teams around us."

McCarthy is optimistic that key striker Kevin Doyle will be fit after a knee problem prevented him from paying for the Republic of Ireland against Croatia in midweek.

He said: "There's every possible chance that Doyle will play. It's nothing sinister or serious.

"It was a precaution (pulling out of the Ireland squad) after he got a kick on it last weekend.

"I haven't said he'll be fit. I'm saying the chances are that he will be."

McCarthy is looking for an improvement on Wolves' recent results at Ewood Park.

He said: "We've played well on the last two occasions. We should have been up in both but got beat by three goals so we want to do better."

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