Ex-City keeper pleased with Premier League return as Wolves prepare for FA Cup quarter-final
PUBLISHED: 12:07 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:20 04 March 2019
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A first Premier League appearance in almost three years has kick-started FA Cup quarter-final preparations for former Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy at Wolves.
The former City stopper’s last top-flight game was in May 2016, a 3-0 defeat at Everton as Norwich slipped down to the Championship under Alex Neil.
After staying with the Canaries for a season – taking his appearance tally to 243 to put him 44th in the club’s all-time list – the one-cap England international joined Wolves on a free after his contract was not renewed at Carrow Road.
After playing a key role in Nuno Espirito Santo’s team winning the Championship title last season, Ruddy has had to make do with cup appearances this season, after seeing Portugal number one Rui Patricio brought in by the big spenders.
“Everyone wants to play in the Premier League. I felt I’d done enough last year to deserve a chance but it wasn’t to be,” Ruddy said, after keeping a clean sheet in a 2-0 win at home to Cardiff on Saturday.
“But to be part of the squad is extremely special and working with a manager on a daily basis who is as good as Nuno is something that keeps you going.
“If it was five or six years ago, and I was a bit younger and immature, I would be kicking my heels a little bit and chucking my toys out of the pram maybe.
“I take it out on the golf course instead – my driving has got a lot bigger! You have to deal with it and make sure you are working hard in training everyday, in the gym and making yourself better.
“I’m 32, I have had a good career and I believe I can still contribute at this level. I wait for my chance and I still want to play for the next eight years at least.
“To play until 40, that’s the magic number for a keeper. My body feels alright at the minute, touch wood.”
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Ruddy has provided cover for Patricio in every game of the Premier League season before Saturday and is set to return to the bench for a tough game at Chelsea on Sunday.
His appearance against struggling Cardiff came with Wanderers’ survival all but secured in seventh place with an impressive 43 points from 29 matches, to get him ready for a home FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United on Saturday, March 16.
Ruddy has started all of Wolves’ cup games this season, helping to knockout Liverpool, Shrewsbury and Bristol City to set up a shot at a first semi-final appearance since 1998.
“I think it is going to be a slightly different game,” Ruddy said, comparing his Cardiff outing with the United challenge when speaking to the Mirror. “If we can get through in that round then we will deserve to be at Wembley so it’s a big challenge for us but one we will embrace and look forward to.
“Rui has done well enough in the Premier League to stay in the team and I feel I have done well enough in the cups to do the same.”
He added: “I will continue to fight and continue to work hard to make sure the manager knows I am ready when needed.”