Mick McCarthy admits the form of Wolves centre-back Richard Stearman is preventing him from recalling last season's player of the year Jody Craddock.
Stearman has considerably improved the defensive side of his game to become a first-team regular in the battle for Barclays Premier League survival. It means Craddock has been confined to the substitute's bench since recovering from injury.
McCarthy said: "Jody is fit but, as much as I would like him in the team, I can't. Richard has been rock-solid."
He added: "We all knew that 'Stears' could play, could handle the ball well as a player, but we just had to get him to defend.
"It was a case of defend first and all the other stuff comes with it.
"He has concentrated on that side of things, has done that side of things far, far better and he has had a very good season."
McCarthy has challenged his midfield understudies to profit from the absence of the in-form Tottenham loanee Jamie O'Hara against his parent club in Sunday's home clash.
O'Hara has scored in Wolves' last two games, the 1-1 draw at West Brom and the 4-0 success over visiting Blackpool.
McCarthy said: "It's an opportunity for someone to come in. People will know my options."
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