Hoolahan welcomes new blood

Chris LakeyWes Hoolahan hailed the input of two recent arrivals at Carrow Road as the Norwich City promotion challenge gathered momentum. Hoolahan opened the scoring after just 104 seconds against Yeovil, tapping in after Grant Holt's header from Anthony McNamee's corner came back off the woodwork.Chris Lakey

Wes Hoolahan hailed the input of two recent arrivals at Carrow Road as the Norwich City promotion challenge gathered momentum.

Hoolahan opened the scoring after just 104 seconds against Yeovil, tapping in after Grant Holt's header from Anthony McNamee's corner came back off the woodwork.

McNamee is probably the one player in the squad who has the full range of Hoolahan-style tricks up his sleeve - and a left foot that can also leave opponents bewildered.

His is a talent the little Irish magician was quick to recognise.


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"He has brought a different element to our game on the wing," said Hoolahan. "He's quick and he's tricky and he puts a lot of crosses in. He's an out-and-out winger, something we don't really have at the club and it's an added bonus for us."

McNamee has started the last three City games as Paul Lambert reshuffled to cope with Darel Russell's suspension, having waited patiently for his chance since arriving at Carrow Road from Swindon in November on a loan deal that was made permanent in January.

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Stephen Elliott arrived just last Friday, on loan from Preston and while he looked sharp in his 13-minute cameo appearance, it's perhaps his mere presence as competition and experience that will prove invaluable.

Hoolahan knows Elliott from their childhood days in Dublin, and knows exactly what he brings to the table.

"I used to play five-a-side with him and I played under-21s with him," recalled Hoolahan. "He's a smashing player and a great addition to the squad. He's an intelligent striker, has great movement off the ball and a goalscorer. Obviously Chrissy (Martin) and Holty (Grant Holt) were great so it puts a bit more pressure on them to do well.

"It's a nice time to bring someone in, freshen the faces up and bring a new challenge to things and as you see today it worked."

Martin and Holt were also on the scoresheet as City's leading marksmen all found the target.

Hoolahan's goal was his first since Boxing Day and his 14th of the season in all competitions, easily surpassing his previous best of 10 in 2006-07 when he helped Blackpool win promotion from League One via the play-offs - beating Yeovil in the final.

"It's nice that it came," he said. "I haven't really been getting chances, but today it fell for me and I just put it in. I was happy with that.

"It was a great ball in from McNamee and Holty's header came off the bar and it fell comfortably for me - so it was nice."

The division of goals took the joint total of the three to 60 for the season.

"It's incredible to achieve that, but obviously it's not just down to us," said Hoolahan. "The other lads get involved and make the goals and all that and create a lot of chances for us and they work hard and win a lot of tackles for us.

"But it's a great achievement and I think we should be proud of it.

"The team were great today. I thought we were excellent - the first time we have really played well in a few weeks. We got the ball down and passed it and looked comfortable doing it."

Hoolahan returned to a more central role on Saturday and said: "I like it there - I like when I'm facing goal. I see a lot of passes - but obviously where the gaffer puts me I will just do the job and I am just happy and pleased with my performance. I was winning headers and winning tackles. You just have to do what you can for the team."

The icing on the cake was the other results from around the country, with Leeds held at home by Brentford and dropping seven points off the pace and Swindon - who City play in a fortnight's time - losing at home to Bristol Rovers.

Hoolahan said: "Leeds have a great team and Swindon have been playing really well the last few weeks, but in this league I think anybody can beat anybody on their day.

"We are just churning out results and we are looking around and the rest of them are dropping points and it's great to see."

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