Wolves wishing for New Year?

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Between now and New Year, the fixture list is not kind to Wolves. Saturday's meeting with West Ham at Molineux represents their last chance to take maximum points against a fellow relegation candidate before a run of games that sees them visit Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford.

Mick McCarthy also welcomes Arsenal and Manchester City to the West Midlands.

Even when that's over, they still have to host Bolton, visit a buoyant Blackpool and overcome Steve Bruce's stubborn Sunderland side; a run of games that really could define Wolves' season and show us whether they are able to survive another season.

With the pressure piling up on Wolves to get some results; and these extremely tough fixtures ahead in the lead up to Christmas, McCarthy will be cursing his luck at the injury to one of his star strikers during international duty.

McCarthy has a tough decision to make - risk Kevin Doyle from the start of let another striker take the lead alongside Steven Flethcer?

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has shown some flashes of what he is capable of at this level so may be an option; if it doesn't work out, bring Doyle on at half time. There's never any harm in being pro-active when things aren't going to plan.

On the other hand, one piece of excellent news for the Wolves boss is the return of Stephen Hunt to fitness.

Having signed him in the summer transfer window, the Molineux faithful are yet to see him in action due to a foot injury he sustained whilst at Hull City. Having come through 45 minutes for the reserves against Wigan in the week, it seems that McCarthy is ready to put him into the fold.

Hunt has been on both a winning and losing side in relegation battles, so he may be the perfect man to lift the side when they most need it. During his time at Reading, Hunt showed himself to be a passionate, dogged player who give his all and can contribute with a few goals or assists along the way.

McCarthy clearly sees him as someone who can bring experience and calm to his side whilst also being able to provide something extra when needed.

Again, he may need a bit of match time before the fans can really see what he is made of. His battle with injury has lasted over eight months so he'll need to get back to match fitness - another player that McCarthy may rely on from the bench if things are going wrong tomorrow.

The loss of four games on the trot has left Wolves in an extremely difficult position; especially with what lies ahead.

A result against West Ham would give the team the best possible mindset going into the game against Chelsea at The Bridge and McCarthy will be hoping that Drogba & Co. will have a rare off-day so he may snatch an unlikely point.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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