50 not out and Wes Hoolahan has plenty more miles on the clock at Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Wes Hoolahan is getting better with age at Norwich City insists interim boss Alan Irvine.
Hoolahan's brace in the 7-1 Championship romp against Reading brought up his half century of City goals in 315 appearances. Irvine admits the Canaries must now ration the magic dust from the 34-year-old Republic of Ireland international, but there is more to come from the club's longest-serving player.
'He is the type of player I love. A player with great vision, awareness and technique,' he said. 'He is extremely fit. He is an excellent professional and looks after himself very well but for him to go Tuesday/Wednesday and then Saturday is a big ask, certainly repeatedly because of the way he plays the game. His assets are not his athleticism so it is hard work for Wes to cover long distances. He is certainly in good condition for someone of his age and at this stage of his career. He is extremely talented. I tried to sign him when I was at Preston and he was at Blackpool. That didn't happen but I have admired him for a very, very long time.'
Irvine shares former boss Alex Neil's view Hoolahan's workload must be carefully managed.
'At the beginning of the season I told Alex he would always be in my team,' he said. 'Now, you can't play him in every game in the Championship but if Wes is fit and fresh he is a key player. I agree with Alex. Yes, you do have to manage him and Wes knows that as well. He needs to be fresh mentally and physically to perform at the levels he did (against Reading).'
Hoolahan, Alex Pritchard and Nelson Oliveira tore the Royals apart.
'They have a great awareness of what is around them,' said Irvine. 'But the platform for what happened was our positioning when we didn't have the ball. Huddersfield gave us problems in how they played out from the back and we didn't do that job well enough when they were in possession. Against Reading the lads were spot on to stop them at source. Reading, as a team, on average make 500 passes per game. We stopped them from doing that. Our discipline and positioning was great and we pinched it back on a number of occasions - not least when Jonny Howson gets on the end of something inside two minutes, we get the shot away and from that comes the penalty.'
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• Click on the video timeline to watch five of Wes Hoolahan's best strikes in a Norwich City shirt.