Wolves' play-off semi-final second leg against Norwich tonight has been hailed by the Molineux chief executive, Jez Moxey, as "the biggest match in our contemporary history".
A sell-out Black Country crowd of around 27,500 is guaranteed despite the home side's 3-1 defeat in Sunday's first leg and the fact that no First Division club has ever turned round such a margin in the play-offs.
"So much is at stake," said Moxey. "You only have to look at the ITV Digital situation to know how important it all is, with the Sky money, the commercial potential and even the parachute payments for teams who come down from the Premiership. This has to be the biggest match in our contemporary history.
"We have had a good look at what this club are all about with the full houses we've had this season, and I know Molineux will come to life. Anything could happen if we score an early goal. This is not over yet by any means and we're looking forward to the game. Having said that, we accept we are now the underdogs."
Moxey is at the sharp end of a Sir Jack Hayward-led board which has sanctioned a £12m spending spree this season alone in an effort to restore the club to top-flight status for the first time in 18 years.
In late February Wolves led Manchester City by eight points, albeit having played three matches more. They were also a staggering 10 points ahead of their arch rivals, West Bromwich Albion, with a much better goals difference. That huge lead was overturned in the space of just five matches, leaving Wolves fans contemplating the agony of their side facing the likes of Grimsby and Rotherham again next season while Albion will be rubbing shoulders with Arsenal and Manchester United.
"We're disappointed to have missed one big chance," said their manager, Dave Jones. "Now we have another one which we want to take. We have left ourselves with an uphill task and obviously I will be disappointed if we don't go up. But now is not the time to be talking about that. It's all about trying to pull this tie around."
Mark Kennedy has an outside chance of being fit after missing the first leg with a recurrence of his groin injury. Kevin Muscat, set for a move to Rangers in the summer, again looks likely to be left out. But midfield dynamo Alex Rae is fit after a dead leg.
The Norwich manager, Nigel Worthington, was content to indulge in mind games yesterday, insisting his side were "underdogs" despite their potentially decisive advantage from the first leg.
"We're not favourites," Worthington insisted. "There's no pressure on us whatsoever. We're 3-1 up and in a nice position but we've got to go out and work very hard over the next 90 minutes to get a result."
Worthington also called for strong control of the game from the referee, Tony Leake. "We are expecting a very physical game and what we need is a strong referee who is ready to stamp his authority on anything that might be going on, on or off the ball," he said.
City look certain to name an unchanged line-up for the fourth game in succession. Steen Nedergaard is still out of contention as he recovers from a leg infection while the striker Iwan Roberts is likely to be kept in reserve.
Norwich forced a goalless draw at Molineux as Wolves' charge for an automatic promotion place began to fall apart last month and the same again would see Canaries fans checking directions to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium for the final on 12 May.Reuse content