Grant Holt’s comeback could prove key to weeks ahead for Norwich City

Chris Hughton acknowledged Grant Holt's influence spreads far beyond the confines of the pitch on a

Chris Hughton acknowledged Grant Holt's influence spreads far beyond the confines of the pitch on a matchday. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Grant Holt’s injury return for the final quarter of Norwich’s goalless Premier League draw against Newcastle marked a ‘pivotal’ moment in the captain’s recovery.

Chris Hughton adopted a ‘handle with care’ approach for the looming battles ahead after keeping Holt in reserve until the second period following a hamstring problem.

“The fear in starting him is you put him a little bit at risk. I know most would have liked to see us start with Grant,” said Hughton.

“We had a decision to make, based on the fact that he hasn’t perhaps trained enough to start. You could start and play him only for a period of time, but the game dictates that one and if you do start him and you end up having a few injuries then you have a problem. We weren’t in a position to play him for 90 minutes but he now has the opportunity to get a full week’s training under his belt and he will be available for next week. We have had to tread carefully.”

Hughton acknowledged Holt’s influence spreads far beyond the confines of the pitch on a matchday.

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“He is a big player for us. Not only his ability on the football pitch but he is the captain and has been for a number of years,” he said.

“Going into this period of the season we need as many fit players as we can and it was good to see him back. We made the right decision on medical advice. We need Grant fit, not only today but the next game and the next game after that so it was important we did things right over this past week. We hope and expect there to be no reaction and he pushes on.”

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Holt’s initial watching brief paved the way for a rare Premier League start for Simeon Jackson. The Canadian’s chief support at Peterborough in the previous weekend’s FA Cup romp, Elliott Bennett, was introduced late on.

“I think Elliott is generally unfortunate because he is desperate to play and he showed that in the FA Cup,” said Hughton.

“The question is where to play him and no doubt his best position is wide on that right but I think Snoddy (Robert Snodgrass) has shown such good form and has been a big player for us. You can play him elsewhere, but it is always about getting the balance. He is right in contention for games and will continue to be so.

“Simeon certainly worked hard. I think it was difficult for him because we needed to get into better areas. Wes (Hoolahan) was excellent in that hole at times when he got on the ball, but with that type of striker we need to provide him with better quality balls and through balls and we probably didn’t do that.”

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