Norwich City captain Holt giving as good as he gets
The statistics are enough to liken Norwich City skipper Grant Holt to Bolton and England striker Kevin Davies, according to former Premier League referee Jeff Winter.
Football stat kings Opta have recorded the fact City captain Holt is currently the most fouled player in the Championship, taking punishment from the opposition 95 times this season.
But that is still two fewer than the amount of fouls Holt has committed in the 2010-11 campaign, bringing six yellow cards – his one red card this term, at Reading, was rescinded on appeal.
The latter table was also topped by Holt in League One last season.
The numbers are a clear sign of the City number nine's commitment to the cause – and Winter agrees. 'He's the Kevin Davies of the Championship,' said Winter of Holt. 'The striker versus defender – or the old number nine/number five situation – from the referee's point of view is one of the trickiest confrontations to asses because more often than not if teams are looking to find the likes of Davies or Grant, when the ball gets to them you are usually looking at some form of holding or backing in, and the foul count can quite easily rise.
'Those target men are using their strength but more often than not they are honest attempts to win the ball and if you are going to castigate those players for being dirty, I think that is very unfair on them.
'Thankfully the days of defenders piling through strikers from behind seem to have gone.' Although Holt served a one-match suspension earlier this season for picking up five bookings, the striker has been shown yellow just once in his last 18 matches.
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The flip side of that has seen fouls on Holt earn penalties against Sheffield United and Queens Park Rangers, as well as numerous free-kicks for the Canaries cause.
'The best way to describe the likes of Grant Holt or Kevin Davies is as good honest professionals,' added Winter, who currently works as a media pundit – although yesterday he was busy celebrating his share of race horse Misty Morn, who took the final race at Catterick. 'You get the strikers that are goal poachers, and then you get the ones that work back, hold up the ball, and those players are going to get involved in more tackles and a higher percentage of fouls. Every team needs a player like Grant Holt. His goalscoring record is excellent but I'm sure Norwich City supporters will say he gives the team a hell of a lot more than just his goals.'
Even if it was just his goals, the statistics back up Holt's Championship contribution this season – 16 from 37 league appearances this term.
Winter added: 'When Norwich came up last season they were my outside fancy. They have got lots of goals in them and scored for fun in League One, and they have just continued that – so they have got a great chance of getting back to the Premier League this year.'