Down to earth:?Kevin Doyle

It would be easy for Kevin Doyle to blame Wolves' problems this season on one of the usual clichés. You know, second-season syndrome or the 'toughness' of the Premier League. But he's not like that. Remarkably down to earth, he straight-bats every question rather than answering with the stock responses. Revealingly, he's also a rare Premier League player to admit the division has got worse.

"I've thought about it and I think there's been a bit of a decrease in quality. Say a couple of years ago, where did the best players go to? You had Liverpool winning the Champions League. This year we beat Liverpool and they're mid-table. It's probably fallen back a bit."

That's a view that wasn't shared by Premier League cheerleaders such as Andy Gray and Richard Keys. Although, given the events of the last week, those two had a few opinions that didn't carry weight with the general public. Much has been made in that time over the 'banter' within footballing environments. Doyle may be a man apart from most players given how well-adjusted he appears. But he's not going to pretend all is proper. As he says, however, "it depends on the context".

"It's slightly different to Andy Gray and Richard Keys. What they said was a bit more serious. It wasn't 'what have we got a woman for, ha ha?' Theirs was more 'Jesus!' In an all-male dressing-room lads laugh amongst themselves, there are no women in the background. On that Loose Women programme, they were saying about the amount of abuse they give fellas. But they're doing it as a laugh."

In any case, for all the talk of Sky's 'influence', Doyle claims Gray isn't given too much consideration in dressing-rooms.

"For a lot of general fans, what he'd say would be gospel. It's not that players would not respect Gray but he's not saying it for players. His job is to make it as simple as possible. You wouldn't be watching him to see why we lost the game."

This week, it was all work for Doyle as he was in Dublin to launch 3 Mobile's new grass-roots scheme, which could raise up to €10m for clubs. When he finally gets to kick back on transfer deadline day though, he won't be tuning into Sky then either. "I try not to watch the sports channels any more," he admits. "It's an industry isn't it?"

Doyle has been the subject of many rumours within that industry since he first played in the Premier League for Reading. With Wolves in a relegation battle, his thoughts on that are interesting.

"You have to take your opportunities when they come, I've learned that. At Reading I had opportunities, or didn't push through when I probably should have. But I was happy. You only learn with experience so if they come in the future hopefully I'll be in a particular position and realise sometimes you have to take them. There was a couple that came close but I was new to England, just getting used to it and enjoying where I was playing. I wanted to reward them for signing me in the first place and didn't want to rock the boat."

Does that mean he'd be prepared to now if a similar opportunity came?

"They'd be leaving things a bit late, wouldn't they? Although stranger things have happened. When I think back, in the past they've rung with two hours to go on the transfer deadline evening."

Before anything like that, he's got Stoke today in the FA Cup. Given the all-consuming pressure of the league, many see the knock-out competition as a nuisance. Not Doyle.

"We don't have any European games or anything so a cup run would be exciting. It can take your mind off the relegation battle. I've never really been involved in one. We've seen Cardiff get to the cup final, Portsmouth. We're not going to win the league, so we could get to a final. After Sunday, I heard there'll be only 50 per cent Premier League teams left in the competition. If we get through Stoke, which would be a very tough game, we don't know who you could get. It'd be a buzz."

And, certainly, a more pleasing kind of problem.