Wes Hoolahan in line for a leading role in Norwich City's defining Premier League act
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Wes Hoolahan may have a big part to play in the defining act of Norwich City's Premier League survival bid.
The club’s current longest-serving player made his first City start since March 12 at the Emirates. Hoolahan’s vision and execution created one of Nathan Redmond’s chances, prior to the interval, before Alex Neil felt the Irishman’s recent inactivity caught up with him.
“I thought he started to tire and what tends to happen when he is becoming tired is he drifts to the wide areas and hangs about hoping to get the ball on the counter,” said Neil. “When you are playing Arsenal away you need someone who is going to get back in and work. I spoke to him after the game and he felt a bit fatigued because he has not played for a few weeks. I thought he did well up to that point. We needed to go a bit more direct and play two up the middle.”
Hoolahan was one of a number of the club’s Championship promotion winners restored to the line up, with Cameron Jerome at the point of the attack before being joined by Dieumerci Mbokani.
“The game suited Cameron because we wanted to play a counter-attacking style,” said Neil. “Cam and Wes is probably a pairing I have used as often as any this season. I thought the presence of Mbokani and Jerome up top would cause them problems, with one going up to challenge and one running in behind. I thought Cam did well.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing after the game with people deciding to play him or him but I have to get the players ready before the match and hope they perform as well as they can.”
Ryan Bennett was the latest defensive absentee, following the season-ending injuries to both Andre Wisdom and Timm Klose, after an aborted return to training following illness.
“We were hoping he was going to be involved,” said Neil. “He did a little bit of training on Friday and that was the first time he had trained all week. Unfortunately he suffered a bad reaction and we decided he wasn’t ready.”