Wolves keeper John Ruddy keen to get some home help
John Ruddy is hoping Wolves will be able to play at Molineux once football resumes as it would ‘obviously help’ Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
There has been a lot of talk around neutral venues but the growing feeling among Premier League clubs is that games will be played home and away – albeit without fans in the grounds.
The German Bundesliga restarted last weekend, with clubs playing home and away – behind closed doors – and goalkeeper Ruddy, who has just had his Wolves contract extended by another year, told the Express & Star: “I think it obviously helps.
“If we’re turning up to Molineux, we know the feeling of the stadium – regardless of whether there are fans there or not.
“We know the feeling of the dressing room, the warm-up area we have, so we’re familiar with that set-up.
“As long as protocols are in place and things are being followed, I don’t see an issue with being able to use your home stadium.”
Home and away is not yet set in stone, with West Midlands mayor Andy Street last week saying it was difficult to see Wolves and Villa being able to play at Molineux and Villa Park respectively while police chiefs have also expressed concerns.
But 33-year-old Ruddy said: “The decision has been taken that there won’t be fans as and when football gets started again, and I think that’s understandable.
“So, I don’t see any reason we can’t use our home stadium, due to the fact that there won’t be any fans there anyway.”
Wolves – used to being in front of a packed-out Molineux, with Nuno often hailing the impact of the fans – will find playing without supporters in the ground strange.
But they do at least have some experience of it, having faced Olympiacos behind closed doors in the Europa League last-16 first leg, which they drew 1-1 just before football was suspended.
On what it is like playing in an empty stadium, Ruddy said: “I think it’s that tunnel vision aspect of it.
“Once that game starts, you’re in the zone.
“Your mind is fully focused on the game whether there are people around or not.
“It’s a bit strange being able to hear everybody’s voice, every instruction from the manager. There is no hiding place in that aspect.
“But once you’re in there, you’re in there. I think the lads are comfortable enough and professional enough to deal with any sort of situation we’re thrown in – as long as it is a safe environment.”
For now, Ruddy and his Wolves team-mates are allowed to train in small groups – up to five, without contact – after they got the all-clear from their coronavirus tests.
“It’s completely different. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how old you are as nobody has ever come across this sort of environment we find ourselves in now,” said Ruddy.
“We have to follow the guidelines as everybody does, and we trust the doctor (Matt Perry), manager (Nuno) and chairman (Jeff Shi) to make sure we’re in the safest environment we can be at the moment, and moving forward as well.”
Ruddy, as a keeper, is just happy he can now have some shots to save in training. When asked what he had been doing previously to keep himself sharp, he added: “It’s about making sure you stay strong and has explosive as you can in terms of muscle memory.
“You have to make sure you’re as fit as you can be. In terms of reaction speeds and handling, I don’t think keepers of a certain level ever lose that ability.
“So, it’s more about using this first week to find a rhythm again and once you’ve found that, you’re flying.”