Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stephen Hunt ready to repay McCarthy's faith

Ireland’s Stephen Hunt won Player of the Year in his previous two seasons at both Reading and Hull. But he hopes he won’t make it a treble at Wolves – after both clubs were relegated in the same season.

Hunt is the only one of boss Mick McCarthy’s summer signings who hasn’t played for his new club yet and it is likely to be October before he finally makes his debut.

But hopes are high that the Portlaoise born winger will have a similar impact on Wolves that he had on his the Royals and the Tigers – and quickly banish any thoughts of a struggle against the drop.

“I didn’t think anyone was going to pick up on that!” said the 29-year-old when asked about the statistic.

“It’s been frustrating to win Player of the Season and get relegated twice. “Perhaps it’s a bad omen but we’ll see how we go here.”

Maybe Hull would have stayed up had Hunt been fit after suffering a foot injury from a Ronald Zubar challenge against Wolves in January.

“The last two and a half months of the season were out of my hands really,” said Hunt, whose six goals up to that point made him Hull’s top scorer.

“It was very frustrating but Hull were very good about the whole situation and with what I wanted to do, so I thank them for that.”

Now relieved to be among more faces he knows at Wolves, Hunt, who signed a three-year deal at Molineux, believes familiarity can breed success as Wolves look to build on last season’s 15th-placed finish.

Married to Kevin Doyle’s cousin, Hunt forms a former Reading quartet with Doyle, Marcus Hahnemann and Greg Halford.

He also rooms with Andy Keogh on Ireland trips, from where he also knows Kevin Foley, while he has bumped into fellow Irishman Stephen Ward enough times to call him a friend and has played against most Wolves players.

“I’ve got an awful lot of friends here, which helped me settle in,” said Hunt.

“Kevin and Marcus are obvious ones, but there’s Andy and Kevin Foley I know through Ireland and I’ve met Stephen a few times so I know him very well.”

After failing with four bids rising to £5m in January, Wolves’ faith in Hunt was amplified by signing him when he was still three months away from being fit following the complicate foot injury.

It was some statement – and the 29-year-old is anxious to repay McCarthy.

“They came in when I’m not fit which shows they’ve got so much faith in me,” he said.

“They really wanted me which made me really want to come here – but I always wanted to come here anyway.”

With Matt Jarvis adapted to the Premier League and Michael Kightly nearing full fitness again, Hunt knows to battle for his place.

But confidence is not something he is short of and the bubbly character believes his all-action as well as his goal threat will impress at Wolves.

“I’ve got competition because a few of the lads finished last season strongly and they did a good job so I’ve got to get my head down and do my bit,” he said.

“The players who played last season will get better this time too because they have had the experience of a year at this level.

“But we need to add to it as well and hopefully I can do my bit.

“When you play midfield in the modern game you have to have a bit of everything.

“Hopefully I can score the same amount of goals if not more once I stay injury-free.

“I want to set up a few goals for Kevin Doyle or whoever is playing up front and to get plenty of crosses into the box, that’s my job really.”

Having played together at Reading for four years, Doyle is looking forward to linking up with him again.

“As well as his qualities on the pitch, he’ll be a boost off the pitch as well because he’s lively and a very good fellow,” said the striker.

“He’ll be good for keeping everyone positive as well as playing well on the pitch.

“We had a lot of success at Reading – he’s a good player and he’s easy for team-mates to play with.”

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