Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Glenn Hoddle is urging his team to revel in their tag of being major preseason promotion fancies.

There is massive confidence in the camp at Molineux following Wolves' excellent end to last season under Hoddle.

A run of just one league defeat in 26 games following Hoddle's December appointment contained too many draws to earn Wolves a place in the play-offs. But they were unbeaten over the final 18 games, culminating in a run of 13 points out of a possible 15 with which to end the season.

The signings of Rohan Ricketts and Gabor Gyepes and the impending return to full fitness of Vio Ganea, George Ndah and Matt Murray, has merely added to the feeling of buoyancy.

And the feeling that this really is Wolves' year is lent added emotional weight by the news that skipper Paul Ince, signed up for a fourth one-year deal at Molineux, yesterday, once again expressed his desire to quit at the end of the season. And this time he really means it.

It has all tempted even those wise old birds the bookmakers to install Wolves behind only Norwich City and Crystal Palace as third promotion favourites.

Given their track record when it comes to holding such mantles, the main danger ahead to Hoddle's men, is from the terraces where the expectations remain as high. But Hoddle is insistent that the weight of pressure should be used to their advantage.

"You can't put any more pressure on yourselves than we already do all the way through the club," claims Hoddle. "But really I don't give a monkey's about the pressure. We've got to embrace it. That's what we're drumming into the players.

"It's ridiculous to hide behind it. We've got to be ready for it and respond. But that one loss in 26 and the fact that we ended up unbeaten in 18 tells us there's something going in on in that dressing room.

"What we've got to make this an even tougher place to be. We have got to make this a real cauldron where people hate to come. Then this crowd will become a massive burden to the opposition.

"I remember in my career at Tottenham there was this feeling we had for a couple of years that no matter who you were playing you were going to win.

"Liverpool had it, so did United. And that is the approach I'm trying to instil here."

That spirit of positive thinking was obvious to see on Saturday when Wolves at times tore Aston Villa to ribbons on their newly laid, slightly extended Molineux surface. And Hoddle is relieved that, unlike on so many occasions last season when their own appalling bumpy Molineux pitch proved their undoing, this time his players have a surface fit for the Premiership.

"If we have a pitch like this one to play on every week, then we've no excuses," said Hoddle. "It's actually got grass on it and it doesn't bobble up. And we need to keep it in good nick.

"And we've had the pitch widened because we expect teams to string people across the park to stop us playing, and it gives us a little extra room in which to play."

Hoddle still has two doubts over Ince and Jody Craddock before he can think about naming a team for their Saturday teatime opener at his old club Southampton.

"Jody has a slight calf strain which should take no more than ten days to clear up and we should know more by the middle of the week.

"But Paul, who was due to play against Villa before getting a kick in training, should be fit for the weekend.

"As for Mark Clyde, he's more long term after an operation to remove some floating bone in his ankle."