SAM Ricketts hopes his first-team return can spark an overdue revival at the Reebok.

The Wales international defender is expected to make his first start since rupturing his Achilles tendon in February when he steps out against Wolves this afternoon.

Ricketts has attended virtually every game, home and away this season, and admits it has been tough watching his team-mates toil at the wrong end of the table.

“I want to get back out there for myself, but also for the team,” he said.

“Naturally, you can see confidence is down among some of the lads because it has been tough.

“There’s no reason that mine should be down, though, so hopefully by coming back into the picture I can breathe a little bit of life into it.

“This game against Wolves is huge for us – but then they all will be from here on in. The important thing is that we concentrate on giving a performance, and then the result will take care of itself.”

Ricketts’ versatility has been sorely missed by Owen Coyle, as form across the back four seems to have ebbed and flowed just as violently as results.

But the 30-year-old doesn’t feel undue pressure as the first of the long-term injured list to make it back into active duty.

“It isn’t a pressure because I have been itching to get back and play my part,” he said.

“I’ve watched pretty much every game this year, and the odd one I have missed has been because of rehab or playing in the reserves, and it is always difficult to know you can’t do anything about it.

“It has been a long road back for me, and while they said it would be six months initially, it has now been more like 11. But the main thing for me is that I’m feeling good and ready to get out there again.”

Wolves have had four hours less to prepare for the game after their match at Arsenal was moved because of the general tube strike in the capital.

Some have speculated that the battling 1-1 draw at the Emirates might well take its physical toll on Mick McCarthy’s side, but that is not a view subscribed to by Ricketts.

“They are a very fit side, and this is just like playing Saturday– Tuesday, so it isn’t anything out of the ordinary for them,” he said.

“They got a great result at Arsenal and it shows the sort of spirit they have got over there.

“It will be a difficult match but we still fancy our chances.”