Cottee - Holt could play in the Premier League
Paddy Davitt Norwich talisman Grant Holt is Premiership quality - according to former City and England striker Tony Cottee. The respected football pundit is confident Holt can fire the Canaries to the League One title after marking his comeback from suspension in the weekend win at Brighton with an 18th league strike of the season.
Norwich talisman Grant Holt is Premiership quality - according to former City and England striker Tony Cottee.
The respected football pundit is confident Holt can fire the Canaries to the League One title after marking his comeback from suspension in the weekend win at Brighton with an 18th league strike of the season.
Holt made just four Championship appearances during a loan stint at Blackpool in 2008 during a career that has now blossomed in the lower leagues - but Cottee is adamant City's skipper can operate at the highest level.
“In my own personal opinion if he is given a chance I think he could play in the Premier League,” said Cottee. “He reminds me very much of a Dean Ashton type of player whenever I have seen him. He looks good, he scores goals and although I haven't seen loads and loads of Grant from what I have seen I've been very impressed.
“As a striker you can't really coach that instinct inside the penalty box. I tried to play the percentages a little bit in terms of always following in shots on the keeper. Of course you do get frustrated when they keep hold of them because you think sooner or later they will drop it, and when they do then people say 'well, that's an easy tap in'. But people don't see the six or seven times you go in before that so it is an instinct thing. To get up and over 20 goals you have to have that natural ability. Players can get 10 or 15 in a season but that doesn't necessarily make you a natural goal scorer.”
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Cottee believes Norwich is the perfect stage for the 28-year-old to shine.
“You're only as good as your service,” said Cottee, who had a brief Carrow Road spell in 2000. “At Norwich he plays alongside Chris Martin and with West Hoolahan, who is an excellent player as well, and with those types of players around you it helps to bring the best out of you.
“That's why I say the higher you go, the easier sometimes it can become to play. Maybe it has been tough for Grant to progress in his career and get to where he wants to so far, but I'm pleased it has worked out well for him at Norwich. Sometimes as a player it doesn't work out for you and you have to drop down to come back up, but that is a great tribute to any player. They get the knockbacks and have to prove themselves again and credit to Grant he has done that.”
Holt is poised to go head-to-head with Southampton's golden boot rival Rickie Lambert this weekend at Carrow Road. The Saints' striker led Holt and Leeds hotshot Jermaine Beckford by a single goal in the current League One charts ahead of Walsall's visit to Elland Road last night . Cottee's Skysports colleague Chris Kamara recently hailed Lambert as the division's best - but Cottee insists Holt is in the same bracket.
“Because I cover mainly Championship matches I've only seen snippets of Beckford and snippets of Lambert,” he said. “I've probably seen more of Grant this season so its difficult to compare them but the biggest compliment I can pay him is that I believe he can play in the Premier. That might not be good news for Norwich at the moment, but I would be surprised if clubs are looking around and they want to take a chance on someone that he is not in the frame. He is certainly up there with those two players and, for me, any forwards right now in the Championship.”
Cottee has backed Norwich to claim the League One crown.
“I must admit I am delighted to see them doing so well because I have done Norwich in my accumulator to win the league along with Chelsea and West Brom,” he said. “So I am cheering them all on the way, believe you me, and I hope Grant can keep banging in the goals.
“They deserve to be at least a Championship club - the same as Southampton, Leeds and Charlton. They shouldn't be in League One but they have found themselves there and got on with it and I feel Norwich and Leeds will be the top two who go up.”
The former West Ham and Everton marksman labelled City's transformation under Paul Lambert as 'incredible'.
“I think that Colchester game is their only home defeat and what they have done since is phenomenal,” he said. “Great credit goes to Paul Lambert who has come in and done such a fantastic job and the players as well because sometimes you get stuffed like that in the first game it is easy for heads to drop and players to doubt themselves.
“The new manager has come in and worked miracles and being an ex-player myself I always like to see them doing well and having a good season. With those three up front I mentioned not only have they a great chance of promotion but winning the league. It would be brilliant for me to see them in the Championship because I should get more Sky games to cover and I always get a great welcome from the people at Norwich.”