Norwich City skipper Grant Holt relishing Chelsea challenge

Striker Grant Holt is happy to have shed his “old-fashioned centre-forward” tag by demonstrating the more subtle side to his game for Norwich City in the Premier League.

Holt’s non-League roots have sometimes led to his portrayal as a battering ram, knocking defenders into submission, but his performances in the top flight have illustrated not only his great strength but a touch of class when needed.

The cross he delivered for Steve Morison’s winner at West Bromwich Albion last week was a prime example, along with a superbly-taken goal at Everton and a marvellous finish against today’s opponents, Chelsea, in the first meeting between the two clubs at Stamford Bridge.

Said Holt: “I think a lot of people have put me in a bracket where they think all I do is go on the pitch, then you stick it up in the air and Grant Holt will knock you about. I think people are starting to slowly realise that I’m much more than that, really.

“Did anyone see my turn of pace last week down that left wing? It took a few people by surprise.”

Holt’s seven league goals this season, plus one in the FA Cup against Burnley, have taken him to 61 in 113 senior appearances for the Canaries, within striking distance of the top 10 scorers in club history.

Today’s televised game at Carrow Road (12.45pm) could offer him another chance to give England skipper John Terry an uncomfortable afternoon, as he did back in August – and another international centre-half could be in his sights if �7m signing Gary Cahill makes his debut for Chelsea.

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“You want to test yourself against the best and if you look at those two, they won’t be far off being England’s two centre-halves in the summer, so it’s a good test,” said Holt.

“When we played against Cahill at Bolton, ‘Moro’ gave him a good game, and I gave John a good game at Chelsea. It will be a good battle. I’m sure they’ll be looking forward to the battle, whoever starts for us.

“We’ve got Simeon (Jackson) as well, who’s in fine form.”

Holt’s goal at Chelsea, a neat overhead finish, was his first in the Premier League and brought City back to 1-1 before goalkeeper John Ruddy’s red card, for conceding a penalty, turned the contest back in the Londoners’ favour and they ran out 3-1 winners,

“It was nice to score,” he said. “The gloss always gets taken off it when you get beaten but it was good to get off the mark. Last time I was there I got spanked 4-0 so it was good just to get a good game and get a goal.

“I’ve scored some not too bad ’uns this year. I’m enjoying it. It doesn’t matter if you score a header, a tap-in or a great goal. A goal is a goal to me.

“I’m enjoying the league, enjoying my football and enjoying the challenge. I think if you look at a lot of our lads’ faces, you can see they’re enjoying playing football.”

At 30, Holt has risen rapidly from playing League Two for Shrewsbury just three season ago, but believes the same priciples apply to goalscoring whatever the division.

“I’ve been very, some would say unfortunate, some would say lucky, to come from where I’ve come from,” he said. “I’ve played on a lot of different grounds and been a lot of places and I’ve finally got to where I want to be. If you don’t enjoy it, that’s when you need to pack in.

“It doesn’t matter what division you play in. If you get good quality and good players around you, which we have, I’ll score goals.

“I’m very lucky that I’m in a squad with a group of players who can put things on a plate for me.”