Wolves could crumble under pressure claims Bristol City's Neil Kilkenny
Bristol City star Neil Kilkenny reckons Wolves could crumble under the pressure of trying to satisfy an expectant crowd in tomorrow’s big relegation battle at Molineux.
The npower Championship’s bottom two sides clash in the Black Country in a contest that could have a profound influence on which teams go down at the end of this season.
And Wolves are clearly feeling the pressure after dropping into the bottom three for the first time this month and manager Dean Saunders has described the fixture as a “must-win” game for his players.
With only two wins at Molineux since September, Wolves are low on confidence and hard-pressed supporters are beginning to lose faith.
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City midfield Kilkenny believes City can take advantage of the siege mentality within Molineux to return with at least a point from a contest neither side can afford to lose.
The Australia international told The Post: “You have to have a big ego to take the ball when the team is under pressure in front of a big crowd.
“People are scared to make mistakes and, sometimes, it can affect you when the crowd gets on to you.
“I’ve seen from experience over the years that players can crumble when that happens.
“It can happen when you play in front of a big crowd and lose possession. That is when the crowd can get on players’ backs.
“Hopefully, we can make that happen on Saturday. If we can keep a clean sheet and frustrate them, then their crowd will start to get a bit itchy.
“If that happens, we can use it to our advantage.”
Kilkenny featured in the City team beaten 4-0 by Wolves at Ashton Gate on December 1.
But much has changed since then and the Robins have improved no end since Sean O’Driscoll replaced the sacked Derek McInnes as manager in mid-January.
Kilkenny insists Wolves will come up against a very different City side when the teams renew their rivalry this weekend.
He said: “A lot of things have changed since then. The new manager has come in and put across his ideas as to how he thinks we should play at the minute and got us very organised.
“We were very open all the time before he came in and we were man for man almost all over the pitch. People are going to lose their man over the course of 90 minutes the team showed a lot of gaps back then.
“Sean O’Driscoll has got us compact and organised, everybody knows his job and he has got his message through that every player has to do one-and-a-half jobs in the Championship.
“Whereas people were probably just doing their own jobs before, we are now doing it his way and covering for each other.
“It breeds confidence when a man is beaten and the next man is there to help him out. That was not happening before and Wolves will see a very different Bristol City on Saturday.”
Head coach O’Driscoll will almost certainly be forced to make changes to the side that beat Middlesbrough 2-0 at Ashton Gate last time out.
Striker Jon Stead is rated a major doubt after damaging his groin last weekend and Albert Adomah, Paul Anderson and Sam Baldock are all vying for the right to support top-scorer Steven Davies.
Stead underwent a hospital scan yesterday and City are still awaiting the results. But the forward has been unable to train this week and O’Driscoll does not expect him to recover in time.