Matt Doherty has ruled himself out of a return for Wolves until the start of the Premier League season.
The Ireland international missed the trip to China and the opening game against Crusaders in the Europa League second qualifying round after sustaining a knee injury in the first few days of pre-season training.
Now Doherty has revealed he will miss the return against the Northern Irish outfit on Thursday night, but is planning on being available for the Premier League kick-off against Leicester on Sunday, August 11. Doherty’s place was taken by Adama Traore for the first leg against Crusaders, with the Spaniard set to keep his spot for the return after putting in a good performance which included an assist for the first goal scored by Diogo Jota.
“I’m not back for another week or so, 10 days,” the 27-year-old told talkSPORT on Monday. “I did it in the first few days – I went past somebody and I just fell over and my knee hit the ground too hard and did a little bit of damage.”
Despite qualifying for Europe with the extra games that will bring, Wolves will carry a small squad again this season. Doherty feels Nuno Espirito Santo’s side can handle the additional matches and have another memorable season because of the European experience in the camp. Before last week Rui Patricio, Willy Boly, Jonny Castro Otto, Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota, Adama Traore and John Ruddy had amassed 323 appearances between them in either the Champions League or Europa League.
“I think we can do great on both fronts,” insisted Doherty. “I think we can handle it just because of the quality of player we have. They’ll just be able to adapt. Some of the players are used to playing in Europe, I don’t think it’ll be a problem.
“And the way our injuries have been in the past couple of years, we’ve not had many at all. I think we’ll be fine if we bring a few players in. Our goal will probably be to do what we did last season and better it if we can.”
Doherty was a key part of Wolves’ success last season as they finished seventh and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup. The long-serving wing back scored eight goals and registered eight assists in all competitions.
“Last season for me, everything just clicked. I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been, which helps, especially with the level of the league,” he said. “It was kind of a dream season for me. “(Right wing-back) is perfect for me because I get to go forward and defend but not quite in the same way as you might in a 4-4-2.”
Doherty revealed the inspiration behind his stellar season in gold and black – Nuno. “The manager, he’s the type that you leave a meeting and you’re looking at the lads thinking what a chat that was,” he said. “He invigorates you and you can’t wait to play the game. When he speaks you listen, and you have respect for him because the results he’s got us has worked. He makes you want to play and put everything you can into a game and win a game for him.”