McCarthy hails ‘gem’ Jody

Craddock was outstanding last season and weighed in with some

crucial goals – including two against Tuesday night’s opponents

Stoke in the corresponding game at the Britannia Stadium. He was

restored to the starting line-up at the age of 35 after an

injury-hit campaign for Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Fulham. But

McCarthy has no doubts about Craddock being ready and in the right

frame of mind for the finale. The Wolves boss said: “Jody is the

epitome of the player that we all want to have in our squads. “He

has been an absolute gem. To be fair, Christophe Berra and Richard

Stearman have had a great spell and been terrific together. “But I

needed to change it and Craddock comes in at 35 and looks like a

25-year-old. He is terrific. “It didn’t surprise me at all because

he comes in and trains and goes in the gym and works his socks off

and has got a body fat of six per cent or something. “He works at

it all the time and is ready to go and plays in the reserves and

does it properly. He is ready to go.” Wolves can move out of the

bottom three with a win or draw against Tony Pulis’ side and

McCarthy will be looking for another major contribution from

striker Steven Fletcher. The former Burnley player turned in an

impressive performance and found the net against the Cottagers.

McCarthy said: “Fletch was excellent on Saturday and everything I

knew he was and what I bought him for. “He deserved his goal for

the way he played. It was a real individual performance of someone

playing up front on his own that he did very very well. “His

work-rate was very good and he’d got a kick on the calf so there

was no point risking him finishing the game. “The last thing we

needed was for him to be unavailable for Stoke and possibly

Birmingham as well next weekend. But he really is a very talented

player.” Wolves will not risk striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake who

suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury when appearing as a

substitute against Fulham. McCarthy said: “He’ll probably miss just

the one game. “He hasn’t torn it but he’s aware of it so if he

misses the Stoke game, he misses 20 per cent of our remaining

games. “If he plays and gets injured, he might miss 80 per cent of

our remaining games.”