Grant Holt is starting to warm to the task
AUDIO: Grant Holt didn't intend it as a warning, but City's Championship rivals should take notice – the striker says he's starting to come good.
Holt took his season's league tally to four with a cracking goal from a tight angle at Reading last week when he and Chris Martin really found the sweet spot in a display that was rudely interrupted by referee Michael Oliver controversially showing the City skipper a red card.
That decision was overturned in midweek, so it will be business as usual for Holt and Martin against Leeds this afternoon, with Holt – who is on the longest run of Championship football in his career – believing a corner has been turned.
'I had three games at Sheffield Wednesday when I was 21 towards the latter end where we were near enough relegated,' he said.
'I went to Blackpool and I think it worked out as about 45 minutes in the end with sub appearances – and that's it, that's all I've done.
'I never got there with Nottingham Forest, but I don't think it is about the league.
'I think it is more to do with this being the second year when I haven't had a pre-season because of my ankle, and as you've seen last year it took me a few months to get going and I think I'm finally getting there.
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'I'm lucky the red card has been over-turned because I think I'm just getting back to fitness, getting back to sharpness and I would have been disappointed to miss three games.
'I keep getting a few assists here and there and the goals are finally totting up here and there. They're taking a little bit longer than I would like and I'd like a few more, but it's a tough league and I think this year you can see the difference in the way the team's playing.
'Obviously last year the team were relying on Chris and me and Wes (Hoolahan) to get all the goals, but Foxy (David Fox) has chipped in, Crofty (Andrew Crofts) has got a few and Russell Martin popped up the other day.
'We're getting goals from different areas, which is good. The onus shouldn't be on the three of us all the time – if it is we are not bothered. We did it last year and we can certainly handle any pressure that comes our way.
'Now we have got ourselves in a position where we are nearly at Christmas, similar to where we were last year, and we are finally finding out what to do in the league and working out how to win games and everything looks good at the moment.'
Holt scored the second goal at Reading, slipping the ball past Adam Federici from a tight angle after picking up Matt Mills' sloppy backpass – a cracking goal that had a touch of deja vu about it.
'I took it well, but to be honest there wasn't much else I could do really,' he said.
'It was a case of go round and hopefully squeeze it in – but I scored one in training few days before. It went in – and John Ruddy is a better goalie than him.'
Six minutes later Martin struck a superb free-kick to make it 3-1 and seemingly out of Reading's reach, until Holt was dismissed for a challenge on Ian Harte.
It was the first time the Holt-Martin pairing has scored in the same league game this season, but the evidence suggests it was close to its bets.
'The first 45 we played well,' said Holt. 'We had a chat in the week. There were a few things we thought we needed to do.
'We needed to get closer together as a partnership and we did and it worked. I think you can see Chris came in and did well.
'Obviously he has been frustrated being left out and I think we discovered when Chris Martin, the way he is and the way he plays, is firing on all cylinders you just fancy him every time he gets the ball to score. I think we saw Chris was back to his best.'
The point at Reading made it three draws in a row, and Holt is expecting something a little special at Carrow Road this afternoon when old adversaries Leeds come to town.
'Last year it was all about going for the league, but this year we are in different situations,' said Holt.'We are both vying for the same position.
'At least this year we know a little bit more about them because the majority of the team is the same as last year's. If we put a performance in as we did last year and we won't be far off.'
It was Martin who secured the points here last season with a last-minute header and the memory of that, the unlucky defeat at Elland Road earlier in the campaign and the fact that City left the Yorkshiremen in their wake on the way to the League One crown, guarantees a cracking atmosphere today.
'I know we generally fill it anyway, but obviously they will probably see it as a little bit of a needle match after last year after we took the title off them, so it should be a good atmosphere and it is up to us to create that,' he said.