By Paddy von Behr
LESS THAN two years ago Danny Graham was a £5m Premier League star – now the striker is out to prove he’s not on the wane, despite dropping down to the Championship with Wolves.
An army of second-tier clubs were in the market to sign Graham on loan from Sunderland before he arrived at Molineux last week. Little surprise, considering the 29-year-old has cost a combined £9m over his career.
But rather than prove his weight in gold, Graham was looking like an expensive mistake on Wearside with no goals in 13 appearances since joining in January 2013.
Two loan moves later – most recently with Middlesbrough – and he appears no closer to breaking into Gus Poyet’s side.
However, after plenty of interested parties came calling Graham is in the Black Country – until New Year’s Eve at least – itching to show he’s no Black Cat flop.
“I know I can score goals at this level and I can score goals at Premier League level,” he said. “I have done it before and I can do it again and I hope I can do it for Wolves.
“I have been kicking my heels massively – I was on the bench a few times and never really got on, but that’s part and parcel of football.
“It was a difficult year before joining Middlesbrough and I found my feet again there and finished the season strongly.
“But it has been a frustrating couple of months in Sunderland and I have not been getting many games.
“I was linked with a move to Brentford last month but there has also been a lot of interest under the radar that people haven’t found out about.
“I don’t know why things haven’t worked out at Sunderland. Everything was set up for me going back home, but some moves just don’t work out and so far at Sunderland that has been the case.
“I’m moving on and I just want to train, play and score goals. Every footballer wants to play in the Premier League, so it is always in the back of your mind that if you play well during a loan spell, you might go back and get another crack – but I’m just focussed on Wolves at the moment.”
A dream Wolves debut failed to materialise as Kenny Jackett’s side were well beaten at home to Nottingham Forest last weekend.
Graham was asked to lead the line and, aside from an early header comfortably saved by Karl Darlow, it was a quiet afternoon for the Gateshead-born centre forward.
But the former Swansea hitman says he has already found his feet in the Midlands and that it won’t be long before he makes an impression on Wolves’ faltering front line – or perhaps even taking some of the club’s fresher faces under his wing.
“I’ve settled in very well,” he added. “The amount of loans I have had over my career, it makes it easy to get settled in.
“Hopefully I can add a bit of experience. A lot of the boys are young lads and maybe I can add a calming influence, like Dave Edwards or Richard Stearman do. It can always benefit them if they have a few older heads.
“It gives me time to play some games and I have proven myself in the Championship many times over in my career, so there is no pressure. I have probably played more football and spent more time in the Championship than anywhere else.
“The fact that I haven’t played for a couple of months made me even more hungry to get going – I just wish there were Saturday, Tuesday games every week so I could play as much as possible.”