We never doubted Jackson, says Holt
Grant Holt has long been the king of Carrow Road – but he's more than happy to share the glory around now that he has a new partner-in-crime up front.
Simeon Jackson has, in footy parlance, been on fire in recent weeks, and Holt's loving every minute of it.
Jackson's form couldn't have come at a better time, with City just ahead of Cardiff in the race for the second automatic promotion spot. But it's only been in the last half a dozen games that he has shown the touch that Paul Lambert – and Holt – insist they always knew was there.
Before his hat-trick against Scunthorpe on April 2, Jackson's goal tally was four in 32 appearances. Now it's 12 in 38. Eight goals in six games is a good return whoever you are and wherever you are playing.
Holt never doubted the Canadian international had goals in him – it was just a case of getting them out.
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'I played against him a few times when he was at Gillingham and you knew he was a natural goal scorer,' said Holt yesterday.
'As a forward it is never easy when you are in or out and have a dip in form and Simeon will be the first to tell you he wasn't performing great.
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'He was working hard, but was not getting his goals.
'We all know as forwards you are kind of judged on goals.
'But he came in and I had a chat with him and just said he needed to get back to what he does best, which is play on their shoulders, play his game the way he does it and he did that.
'I think once he got the hat-trick and he scored the week after it gave him that bit of confidence to say, 'yes I'm ready' and he has stepped up and he has been fantastic. If he continues to do what he is doing it can only bode well for next season.
'He has got everything that a good, top forward needs – he is quick, he is strong and he scores goals and when he is on his game there is no one really better.'
Jackson's form has taken the pressure off Holt's shoulders, with the skipper happy to provide the assists, as he did for his team-mate against Ipswich and twice against Derby.
'We're not bothered who scores or who sets them up, as long as they go in that's fine,' said Holt.
'At this moment in time we have got players scoring goals. Simeon's red hot – every time he gets the chance you think he is going to score. It just sums him up that when he comes off at the weekend he is disappointed he never scored the one before that (his late goal).
'We have got a great team spirit, we have had that all year where we keep going we keep going and we see that we get a lot of goals in the final third and the last seven or eight games we have been owed one I think.'
Holt briefly endured the bad times at Carrow Road: he arrived as the star summer purchase by Bryan Gunn ahead of the League One season, suffered the humiliation of Colchester on the opening day, scored a hat-trick in a Carling Cup win at Yeovil three days later and then, when Lambert, took over, survived the changes that every new manager makes by scoring the goals that would take City back to the Championship at the first attempt.
The former tyre fitter from Carlisle had done the rounds of non-league but when he stepped up it looked like the lower divisions were his best chance. Lambert had wanted to sign him for Colchester, but didn't have the money. City did, and still Lambert benefited.
Holt could be forgiven for thinking that he would never come this close to the Premier League.
'Not about seven years ago – it has been a long slog but I have enjoyed it,' he said. 'It has taken a long time to come and now we are there I want to try and achieve that goal. My target at first was to get in the league and once I was in the league it was to score goals and get a move again. It has taken a while to get there. I've had a few setbacks. I thought I was on the road at Forest. It didn't work out, I stepped back and I have come to a club that is fantastic, it's a great place to live.'
The dream will be reality if City win their next two games, starting with Monday's trip to Portsmouth.
'We go to Portsmouth in good team spirit, a team that is performing well at the minute and we know we can score against anyone and if we go there and play anywhere near what we can do we will have a good chance,' Holt said.
'It is never easy when you go there, they are a good side, they have some quality players and it will be tough. I think when we played them down here we played particularly well, but we didn't take our chances. I think in the first half there were three or four we maybe could have scored, but we didn't and the second half they showed what they can do if you give them opportunities.
'There are a lot of ifs and buts – take Monday as it comes and see where it takes us.'