Wolves are set to give youth a chance at Aston Villa on Wednesday night – and homegrown youngsters Taylor Perry and Dion Sanderson can’t wait.
Midfielder Perry, 18, and centre back Sanderson, 19, trained with the first team in the open training session at Molineux this week as Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad prepared for the Carabao Cup fourth round tie at Villa Park.
Perry is from Kingswinford and Sanderson hails from Wednesfield and having come through the ranks at Wolves for several years, both players know what a derby means to the local community.
“Wolves versus Villa is always been a big game, it’s local rivals, so it’s going to be a big night and both teams will put everything out to win,” said Perry.
“We really want to come away with the win and get through to the next round.
“We’ve been preparing all week. We trained on Monday and we’ve just been getting ready because it’s going to be a tough game.
“Villa are a great team, they came up from the Championship last season. Any game is going to be tough in the Carabao Cup, so we’ve just got to be prepared and hopefully we can perform, do well and get through to the next round.”
Perry made his senior debut in the last round against Reading, replacing the injured Bruno Jordao in the 42nd minute.
“It was my competitive debut, so it was a great feeling for me and my family, where I’ve come from, it’s a real moment,” he recalled. “Hopefully I can carry that on tonight and hopefully we can get the win.”
Should he play, the teenager will be watched by friends and family at Villa and the youngster says he is ready for his chance again.
“It’s every boys’ dream, stepping on to the pitch, and at such a big stadium like that, such a big occasion as well,” said Perry.
“So if I get the chance – hopefully I do – then hopefully I can prove to everyone and take my chance when it comes.”
Wolves will be backed by a sell-out travelling army of 5,500 at Villa Park – their biggest following apart from the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley last season since 8,000 travelled to Anfield for the FA Cup fourth round tie at Liverpool in January 2017.
Perry can’t wait to sample the derby atmosphere and knows they will rely on the fans’ support.
“It’s going to be a great experience travelling to Villa Park,” he added. “They’ve got great fans and it’s a sell-out, the Wolves fans too, so it’s going to be a great atmosphere.
“We need all the fans behind us because it’s going to be a tough game, but hopefully we can come away with the win and put a good performance in for them.”
As regards his progress, Perry stressed the need to continue putting in promising performances to impress Nuno and earn more chances with the senior squad.
“It’s a great feeling knowing I’m in and around the first-team,” he said. “I just want to keep performing well in the Under-23s, scoring goals, assists, getting noticed and take it into the first team really, and prove myself to the manager and all the staff and players.”
Sanderson was an unused substitute against the Royals and hopes to go one better at Villa Park. The nephew of Olympic javelin champion Tessa Sanderson might well get his opportunity with Willy Boly and Ryan Bennett out injured.
“It would mean a lot to play against Villa,” he said. “I have to wait for my chance and be patient, mentally I have to be ready as well, because anything can happen – I have to be ready. It’s a big game, we definitely want to win.”
Sanderson also travelled to China in pre-season and has trained regularly with the first-team squad since before he stepped up from the Under-23s in the summer.
The central defender feels he has adapted to the levels required although he admits he is still learning the game.
“I’m getting along really well with the lads and I’m comfortable training with them,” he added. “Every day is a learning day with the gaffer and with the players you’re training with – I am really enjoying it.
“In terms of my progress, I am coming along really nicely. Since we went away (to China) and we came back, it has given me a lot to think about in terms of where I want to be and how I want to move forward with my career.
“I’ve kept myself hungry in terms of being around the first team. I want to be on the bench and I want to be playing, so I have to keep my feet on the ground, be humble and keep training hard.”
Sanderson was delighted to be giving something back to the young fans who watched the open training session at Molineux – after revealing it was a trip down memory lane for him.
“It’s like home isn’t it? Everyone coming to watch you train feels good and it’s nice to give something back, as they come to support us throughout the whole season,” he said.
“I was here when I was a younger lad. It means a lot to you when all of the players come up to you and sign your stuff. So yeah, it’s great, it’s fantastic.”