Norwich City boss Chris Hughton - Grant Holt ‘doing what he does best’

Grant Holt gets up close and personal with Everton's Phil Jagielka during Saturdays 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

Grant Holt gets up close and personal with Everton's Phil Jagielka during Saturdays 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

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Chris Hughton has praised his captain Grant Holt’s selfless attitude in helping transform Norwich’s Premier League fortunes.

Holt has operated without striking back-up in a lone front-running role for the majority of City’s recent unbeaten seven-match run in all competitions, prior to tonight’s latest test at Southampton.

The Hall of Famer’s 15-goal top flight haul in his debut Premier League season was a major contributory factor in the club’s successful safety mission, but Canaries’ boss Hughton is delighted to see Holt showcasing another side to his game.

“I have to say I thought Grant was very good on Saturday, doing what he does best as a number nine,” said Hughton. “But there is no doubt if you’re playing with Wes (Hoolahan) off the front, there always becomes more onus on the front men to deliver and I think with the system as it is, there is no doubt Grant can score goals.

“Probably there is a little bit more onus on him to lead the line and do a lot of the tough stuff that gets other people into the game, and certainly more responsibility on him.”

Holt‘s one-time partnership with Southampton’s bustling striker Rickie Lambert at Rochdale terrorised lower league defences, and Hughton believes both men’s elevation to the big league is an increasingly rare occurrence in the modern game.

“Certainly in years gone by it was fairly common for players to step up from the lower leagues. I played in a team with Tony Galvin and Graham Roberts, who came from non league through to the top division, and ended up playing international football,” he said. “It is certainly very good for the game. I suppose there are lots of comparisons, both centre forwards, both have scored lots of goals, both have come up through the leagues, and it is a good example for any young player or player outside the top divisions. Both can be an inspiration.”

Saints’ boss Nigel Adkins has made a similar journey from Scunthorpe’s backroom staff to emulating Norwich’s achievement of back-to-back promotions from League One. Adkins has also survived a tough baptism to Premier League life.

“I think the pressure does come too quickly, but you are not going to change that,” said Hughton. “You are in a game now where you have the coverage as it is and the changes in ownership of clubs as well and the combination of all those things does place even more pressure on managers to get results. Certainly I don’t see that changing. All you have to do is look at the managers who have sustained jobs for a period of time. We were up against one (at Everton) in David Moyes, who is a good example of someone with longevity that can keep producing the goods, but I certainly think it is getting harder.”

Hughton believes City’s battling point at Everton at the weekend typified how far the Canaries have come under his own stewardship.

“We were close first half,” he said. “It wasn’t as if we were that poor. We broke a lot of times in the middle of the park but I think what they did quite well is they stifled Wes. They got a lot of bodies around the ball so we knew we had to up it in the second half and that was probably the most pleasing thing for me.

“I didn’t think we were that bad in the first half, but I thought the way we kept pushing to try to get back in the game was really pleasing because it’s a tough place to go.”

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