Hoolahan must prepare to be a marked man

Former Leeds United star Andy Ritchie believes Norwich City dangerman Wes Hoolahan may have to get used to being a marked man for the rest of the season.

Former Leeds United star Andy Ritchie believes Norwich City dangerman Wes Hoolahan may have to get used to being a marked man for the rest of the season.

In recent matches, the Canaries playmaker has been man-marked with varying degrees of success - but it worked a treat at Millwall as Jimmy Abdou helped nullify the mercurial Irishman's influence on a game City lost 2-1 - the league leaders' first defeat in 17 games.

Writing in his Football League column, Ex-Huddersfield Town and Barnsley boss Ritchie said: “I felt a little sorry for Wes Hoolahan last weekend when he was man-marked every step of the way by Abdou.

“Fair play to Jimmy though because Hoolahan is comfortably one of the best footballers in League One.

“I'm sure Jimmy Abdou's non-stop attention did Hoolahan's head in last weekend but he should take it as a compliment. Occasionally he will be marked out of the game and when that occurs it's down to his team-mates to take over the mantle.

“Obviously, if other sides man-mark him every week I'm convinced Norwich City will alter their way of playing accordingly and find a way to turn it into their advantage, but I'm sure that won't happen despite Millwall's success.”

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He added: “I read with interest Neil Harris saying that he was 'Hoolahan' in training during the build-up to the game and that he hadn't got any change out of Abdou either.”

It was Harris who came on as a substitute at half-time and duly scored Saturday's matchwinner to ensure Millwall became the first side to take all three points off City since Leeds United in mid-October.