Norwich City boss Chris Hughton expects Grant Holt to rise to the challenge

Norwich City boss Chris Hughton insists Grant Holt will play a vital role in helping secure the club's Premier League status. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images Norwich City boss Chris Hughton insists Grant Holt will play a vital role in helping secure the club's Premier League status. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Monday, February 4, 2013
2:03 PM

Chris Hughton wants Grant Holt to remain the leader of the pack at Carrow Road.

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The Norwich boss expects the Hall of Fame striker to respond in positive fashion to the January transfer window arrival of Luciano Becchio and the prolonged courting of Celtic’s Gary Hooper.

Holt ploughed a lone furrow again at QPR prior to the Argentine’s late introduction and Hughton insists his captain will play a vital role in helping secure the club’s Premier League status.

“The reason I brought two strikers in was to give us more competition in the forward areas and to give us more options,” he said. “It’s been a little bit more difficult for Grant this season and, fair play to him, the system we’ve played at times has isolated him a little bit and perhaps he’s had to work a little bit more for the team. Previously he had been used to playing with two up, which would share the load a little bit. So we’re full of admiration for the job he’s doing but yes, of course, he needs help, we need options and particularly at this stage.”

Hughton is adamant every member of his existing squad would have fully backed the club’s pursuit of fresh blood in an effort to build on a solid first part of the season.

“What Grant will want to be is exactly the same as you want everybody in the team to be – they want to be Premier League players, and the only way they can be Premier League players is to make sure we stay in this division,” he said. “The only way we’ll stay in this division is to get enough results, so he is the type of player, once he gets on that pitch, his focus is about playing. There is never any harm with competition in all positions and I think particularly the striker position. It’s one where generally you are going to maybe take a striker off on 70 minutes to get a little bit of freshness. That is the one area that perhaps you do need to freshen and I think he accepts that.”

Hughton did consider introducing Becchio earlier in the piece for his Norwich debut, but resisted the temptation to replace like-for-like. The former Leeds’ striker’s cameo included a decent late penalty shout – in the view of those inside the away dressing room.

“So the lads say, yes, I must admit I have not seen it since,” said Hughton. “I did think about getting him on earlier. It is always a tough decision. I wanted to leave Grant on because at that stage we were probably giving away too many free kicks and too many corners.

“With (Bobby) Zamora and (Chris) Samba they are very prolific in the air and with Wes (Hoolahan), he can show real quality in those individual moments. I just felt we needed to get the ball forward and keep it forward in that period, but it was a tough call.”

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