Championship preview: Solbakken's Wolves are back in business

Betting advice from Michael Holden of Best of the Bets

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Stale Solbakken appears to have weathered the worst of a storm that was gathering over his position at Molineux and it's a measure of his improving fortunes that he takes his Wolves team to Middlesbrough this weekend.

The Teessiders were involved in a Capital One Cup quarter-final at Swansea on Wednesday and came away with a long list of knocks and niggles that leaves them stretched for Saturday's game, as if the bitter disappointment of going out to a late own goal wasn't enough to dampen the spirits. 

No fewer than five players picked up injuries at the Liberty Stadium with Grant Leadbitter, Faris Haroun, Seb Hines, Andre Bikey and Andy Halliday joining a treatment table that already includes Jonathan Woodgate, Mustapha Carayol and Julio Arca. 

A few of them could recover in time to face the Old Gold but it would be asking a lot for Boro to meet their highest standards in terms of tempo and intensity, having spent most of the two-day turnaround patching up rather than preparing for the task at hand.

You can get odds of 2/1 about Wolves (draw no bet) and that's an enticing price when you consider how well-organised the visitors have been on occasions this season. The assumption, of course, is that successive wins over Bristol City and Birmingham point them back towards the form that shot them into early contention.

Mystery surrounds the cause of an alarming slump of nine games without a win, save to say that the Black Country outfit found early results so easy to come by that complacency might have been an issue, It suddenly appeared as though they stopped doing the basics.

Tactical awareness is a key part of the Solbakken philosophy and the first goal is likely to be crucial. Boro boast an impressive record from losing positions, having rescued 13 points, but it would be a tall order for them to build on that tally given their exertions, both physical and emotional, in midweek.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield are getting something like their best team back out on the pitch and they look a very attractive price at 4/1 for the early kick-off at Hull.

The Terriers welcome back midfielder Keith Southern following his three-match ban for a straight red in the 1-1 draw at Charlton and boss Simon Grayson makes no secret of his importance as an experienced performer at this level in setting the tone for the rest of a newly-promoted team.

Just as crucial is James Vaughan. The all-action centre forward is back to full match fitness after an eight-match spell on the sidelines with a thigh injury. Town's impressive record of W6 D2 L1 with the on-loan Norwich man leading the line speaks volumes and gives insight into the value to be found on the visitors.

Vaughan played the full 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw with Bolton last weekend and showed no adverse effects, pouncing late on to grab an equaliser and he could pose untold problems for Hull's much-lauded three-man defence.

The Tigers are going great guns on the road but they haven't been nearly as convincing when they're expected to make all of the running on home soil, a vulnerability we illustrated to our benefit when opposing them for the visit of Burnley last month.

Betting advice...

1.5pts Wolves to beat Middlesbrough (draw no bet) at 2/1 (Bet365, Coral)

Solbakken's men are back in business and make the trip to Teesside at an ideal time.

1pt Huddersfield to beat Hull at 4/1 (general)

Terriers have key performers back again and look terrific value to snatch the points.