Holland is impressed by Norwich City
Norwich City's promotion challenge has received backing from south of the county border – albeit reluctantly.
Matt Holland, the former Ipswich Town skipper turned media pundit, joined the list of those becoming more and more impressed with the Canaries' penchant for refusing to give up a lost cause.
Grant Holt's injury-time winner against Reading six days ago was the seventh time this season City have scored in time added on – and even a man with blue blood in him couldn't fail to notice.
'That wonderful never-say-die spirit is so important within a football team and Norwich City has it in abundance,' said Holland.
'As an Ipswich Town man I'm loathe to praise them normally, but credit where credit's due, the Canaries have a tremendous attitude that will continue to take them far.'
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Holland's comments came in his latest blog for the Football League – but they came with a warning that the Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest are going to dominate the race for the two automatic promotion spots.
Holland believes their strength in depth could be the difference.
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'Every season a manager will have three or four key men out injured, so the standard of their replacements has to be high if you don't want results to be adversely effected,' he said.
'It's also crucial that one or two of your match day subs are guys who can come on and be good enough to change the course of a match.
'On Sunday I made a conscious effort to see who Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest had on their respective benches and I couldn't have been more impressed. Sat behind Neil Warnock were the likes of Pascal Chimbonda, Ishmael Miller and Heidur Helguson, while Billy Davies was kept company by talent such as Rob Earnshaw, Paul Anderson and Nathan Tyson. Those six players alone would walk into most npower Championship sides.
'Because of that strength in depth I can't see either club fading in the promotion run in. I know that Billy Davies is often bemoaning the lack of numbers he has available to him but when I saw what he had in reserve last weekend it gave me the impression Forest have enough quality to call upon, providing they don't suffer any serious injury problems between now and May.
'It's down to the others to produce the goods now if anyone is to stop QPR and Forest from taking the two automatic promotion places. As I've said before, Cardiff City are the ones who stand out because of their attacking prowess, but it might have to take something special, even from them, to avoid the play-off route to the Premier League.
'It's all getting very exciting though, it has to be said. A number of clubs are making a serious charge towards the top six such as Leicester City, Burnley, Millwall and Hull City, so I don't expect things to be done and dusted early in the division this season.'