Hoolahan in line for 100th Norwich City appearance

Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan could make his 100th appearance for the club against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and a former team-mate believes the Irishman is well on his way to becoming a Canary great.

Hoolahan enjoyed nearly two seasons with ex-City man Adrian Forbes at Blackpool and during that time he saw enough to realise the winger has got a special talent.

As soon as the first training session got under way at Bloomfield Road, Forbes knew the former Livingston man was destined for a “bigger club” and he believes Hoolahan has become an even more rounded player during his two-and-a-half years at Carrow Road.

“The moment he arrived at training and no one could get the ball off him, you could see everyone thinking ‘We’ve found ourselves a player here’,” said Forbes, who is now plying his trade with Lowestoft Town in the Ryman League Premier Division. “We had Wes and myself on opposing wings so in training matches we would often play against each other and the only way I could stop him was to kick him!

“But seriously we all knew what a very good player we had found ourselves.”

Hoolahan arrived at Norwich for a reported �250,000 fee in the summer of 2008 – goalkeeper Matthew Gilks moving in the opposite direction – and had the unenviable task of filling the boots of club legend Darren Huckerby, who had not been offered a new contract by then manager Glenn Roeder.

After a difficult first season at the club, it took the appointment of Paul Lambert to get the best out of the player but Forbes always knew Hoolahan would come good and become a fans’ favourite.

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“Despite what’s happened with Blackpool recently and their promotion, I knew that he would move on to a bigger club and it has definitely made him a better player.

“At Blackpool it was all about getting the ball to Wes and seeing what he can do with it. Under Paul Lambert at Norwich he has been able to develop more as a team player and what quite often goes unnoticed is just how hard he does work for his team-mates.

“He beats players and fans love to see that – I know that the supporters love watching him play.”

Forbes revealed that Hoolahan was a very strong-minded individual and tipped his former team-mate to one day play at the highest level.

“I think he can go even higher and hopefully that will be with Norwich given how well they are going this season,” he added. “He has got the mentality to do that. He doesn’t let anything get him down and if he misses a penalty, for example, he won’t dwell on it, he will just make sure that he scores the next one.”

Hoolahan suffered a dead leg after coming on as a substitute in the 2-1 win at Coventry City on Saturday but the Canaries are hoping he will be fit for the trip to Selhurst Park.

The Irishman has been asked to come off the bench on several occasions so far this season but this is just part and parcel of being part of such a strong squad according to Forbes.

“He won’t have liked being a substitute on a couple of occasions recently but the manager will like that. No one wants a player that’s happy to sit on the bench,” he said.

“He will understand that Lambert has brought together a very strong squad and he is a key part of that. Part and parcel of being at a big club is accepting a role you have to play.

“There are some excellent midfielders at Norwich nowadays and he is just one of them.”