Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

Wolves star Doherty honing in on Ireland starting berth after Premier League promotion

The full-back hopes playing in England’s top flight will give him a better chance of impressing Martin O’Neill.

Doherty has two caps to his name but he's eager for greater involvement.
Doherty has two caps to his name but he's eager for greater involvement.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DUBLINER MATT DOHERTY had a major part to play in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ return to the big time.

Under Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo, the West Midlands club recently claimed promotion to the Premier League for the first time since 2012 — winning the Championship by a nine-point margin.

A key player for Wolves, ex-Belvedere and Bohemians man Doherty started all but one league game this season and excelled at right wing-back in a 3-4-3 formation.

“We were very successful,” the 26-year-old said today. “Obviously, we earned 99 points. What we were looking to do at the start of the season was to win the league, and we played in a way that made us really enjoy putting on the shirt every week.

We managed to dominate most games with some nice stuff being played. Hopefully we’ll have a successful season next season by staying up.”

Backed by Chinese investment group Fosun International with super-agent Jorge Mendes as an adviser, Wolves are likely to spend a considerable amount this summer in their bid to be competitive in England’s top flight.

A year ago, they splashed out a club-record fee — thought to be around £15.8 million — on Porto midfielder Ruben Neves, who was already capped at international level by Portugal.

The 21-year-old won EFL Championship Player of the Year after scoring a number of spectacular goals, and Doherty expects more talent to arrive in the coming months.

“We’re definitely going to bring in some players — probably some big names for quite substantial fees,” he added.

“I guess we have to prove ourselves in the Premier League. We obviously did that last season in the Championship and people say ‘Oh, they might do well’, thinking we can finish in the top 10 or whatever, but that’s not what I’m thinking anyway.

“We’ve got to prove ourselves first and see if we can cope with it, then see what happens from there. We’ll be going into the season full of confidence after what we achieved last season.”

It will be 26-year-old Doherty’s first taste of Premier League football and he is relishing the challenge.

“[I'm looking forward to] just seeing if I’m good enough, to be honest,” he says. “Seeing if I’m good enough to hold my own against some of the best players in the world.

Hold my own and do my own thing as well, cause some problems and see how I can play. That’s the most exciting bit, just to see where my game is really at.”

Ex-Valencia and Porto boss Espirito has proved a hit since taking over 12 months ago, and Doherty is a big fan.

“I’ve said before, I know he has only done it in the Championship, but I think he’s a world-class coach. Everyday on the training pitch, he takes every session and doesn’t leave it up to anybody else. Now that I know him, I’m not surprised that he had the success so early.”

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship - Villa Park In action for Wolves. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

At international level, he has had to be patient to wait for opportunities in a green shirt.

After inclusion in a number of squads, Doherty finally made his senior debut earlier this year as a substitute during the friendly against Turkey. He was handed a cameo late on in Monday’s defeat to France in Paris, but is still waiting to earn a first start.

“I’ve been in quite a few squads lately, I’m not playing but I’ve just got to feel fortunate that I’m in and around it, I guess,” he says.

“Maybe if I can solidify my place in the Premier League next season, that’ll be the main thing to do now.

“It can only help playing in, for me, the best league in the world. If I can have a good pre-season and get myself in the team, it’s not going to hinder my chances.

“Obviously, Seamus [Coleman] is playing in that position and he’s a top-class player who has been playing in the Premier League for years, so I’ve a lot of catching up to do.

I’ll give it my best go and see how I get on next season.”

There’s plenty of competition in the full-back areas, and although Doherty would have no problem playing on the left, having featured there in the past, he sees himself primarily as a right-back.

“I have played left-back but there are three left-backs in the squad now and you have to respect that they’re left-backs and I’m not. If I was put there I would happily play, but at the end of the day, my position is right-back and I’ll challenge as much as I can.

“Like I said, there are left-backs in the squad and left-footers who play there will probably get first choice ahead of me.”

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

‘The club talked about respect but I thought I probably wasn’t shown the respect I deserved’

Burke to skip Shamrock Rovers clash with Dundalk in favour of Ireland friendly against the US

About the author:

Ben Blake

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel