Norwich City striker Grant Holt insists top clubs can pick up non league gems

Norwich City striker Grant Holt believes the non league game has plenty of gems who could do the bus

Norwich City striker Grant Holt believes the non league game has plenty of gems who could do the business in the professional ranks. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City striker Grant Holt believes there are still gems to be found in non league football.

Holt's route to the Premier League started in the less heralded surroundings of Barrow and Halifax, with Canaries' team mates Russell Martin and Bradley Johnson also forced to drop out of the professional game after early career setbacks.

Premier League new boys Crystal Palace yesterday signed Peterborough's Dwight Gayle, who was operating at Bishop's Stortford 12 months ago, but Holt insists clubs are now less prepared to take a punt on raw potential.

'I remember when I left Barrow and honestly they could not have done better for me,' he said. 'The only thing they didn't do was bundle me in the car and drive me to Sheffield to sign for Wednesday. Nowadays because the way football is going it is a lot harder to buy players from non league. People always talk about myself, Rickie Lambert and Glen Murray.

'Clubs might look at it and maybe thinks so-and-so could do a job but it is so difficult now if you are a club to go and say, 'We love the look of your player, let us take him into the professional game and see if he can make the step up and we'll pay you at the end.' Everyone seems to want it up front. but that is just my opinion.'

Holt, speaking on BBC Radio Cumbria, revealed ex-City frontman Mark Robins had a key role in his early development after landing a big break at Hillsborough.

'I remember when I was at Sheffield Wednesday luckily I had Mark Robins there at that time and he was kind of in and out of the reserves and I learned so much from him,' he said. 'I got to the point where I was sitting there and playing reserve team football after coming out of non league and I hated it. I went to Rochdale and it was the best thing I ever did. Steve Parkin put his arm around us and it just fitted. Sometimes you go somewhere and it just clicks. It was the same at Norwich. I went and it absolutely clicked. You knew it felt right.'