Mick McCarthy insists Saturday’s opening-day defeat to West Ham proved to his players that they can cope with the demands of the Barclays Premier League.
A superb strike from Mark Noble and Matthew Upson’s unmarked header meant the Hammers left Molineux with all three points, but Wanderers proved to be a match for Gianfranco Zola‘s outfit on their first return to the top flight since 2003/04.
McCarthy takes his charges to Wigan tomorrow night once again looking to get off the mark and pick up some early pace in the battle to avoid relegation.
Wolves and fellow Premier League newcomers Birmingham and Burnley have been tipped among the favourites for an immediate return to the Coca-Cola Championship at the first time of asking.
All three started with defeat on the first weekend of the season but McCarthy has taken a lot of confidence from the way his Wolves side fared against West Ham, who finished ninth last term.
Asked what he felt his players learnt from Saturday‘s introduction to life among England‘s elite, McCarthy replied: “Learning about the opposition isn‘t a key thing I believe because we knew West Ham had good players.
“We didn‘t doubt for one minute that (Robert) Green was a good keeper, (James) Collins and Upson were good centre-backs, (Scott) Parker‘s a good player, (Kieron) Dyer‘s a good player and (Carlton) Cole‘s a good player and all the others. We know that in every single team we‘ll play.
“We know there‘s quality in it and the pace of the game is something that we‘ll have to contend with.
“If they learnt anything I think they learnt they can cope with it.”
He added: “I think some have been a bit disparaging about our performance actually, a little bit condescending that ‘oh well, we knew they‘d have a go, they were up and at it, they were at home and they‘ve just come up‘.
“We were better than that, we were better than that. Until they scored we were the better side.
“I thought we played well, and if the players wanted to learn anything and understand anything then it‘s that, actually yeah, they can play at this level.
“We didn‘t know did we? We had no idea about Kevin Foley, Wayne Hennessey, Stephen Ward, Michael Mancienne, Jody (Craddock) has had a few games at this level, all the lads that hadn‘t played.
“So if they have learnt or found anything out about it it‘s that, actually, we can play at this level and we can create chances, but we have to take them and then we can‘t afford to let anybody have a free header in our box.”
A confident Wigan side will lie in wait for Wolves at the DW Stadium following their more than impressive 2-0 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday.
And if Wanderers are to prove they can hold their own in the top flight then it will be an injury-ravaged side that will have to do it tomorrow night, with McCarthy describing the club‘s treatment room as “emergency ward 10”.
The Black Country outfit will be without strikers Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (hamstring), Kevin Doyle (groin), Chris Iwelumo (foot), midfielder Michael Kightly (hip and foot) and defenders Kevin Foley (knee) and Christophe Berra (hamstring).