DALE ACE GRANT IS DANC­ING AGAIN...

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Paddy von Behr

ROCHDALE’S prodigal son is back and af­ter he net­ted a se­nior goal for the first time in 16 months last week­end, Grant Holt feels like he never went away.

Ten years ago, Holt was a Spot­land rev­e­la­tion, scor­ing 14 times in 21 league games in the 2005-06 sea­son to earn a six­fig­ure move to Not­ting­ham For­est.

A decade later – fea­tur­ing a storm­ing Premier League stint with Nor­wich and a tor­rid in­jury-hit spell at Wi­gan – he is back at Dale.

And the 34-year-old is back among the goals, climb­ing off the bench to score against Sh­effield United last week­end and bring­ing out his ‘chicken dance’ cel­e­bra­tion – more than a decade since it was last seen in those parts.

“It has been a while and it was a lit­tle bit rusty,” laughed Holt. “It has been a while since I scored, to be hon­est.”

Rusty

He’s not wrong. Holt’s last league goal had come in Novem­ber 2014, dur­ing a loan spell with Hud­der­s­field, and for a striker that’s a long time to wait.

“You never for­get what it’s like to have that feel­ing,” he con­tin­ued. “I have tried to ex­plain it many times over the years but I don’t think I can.

“But it doesn’t mat­ter if you play in the back gar­den with your kids or on a Satur­day af­ter­noon – it’s the same feel­ing.”

It has been a rocky road in re­cent years for Holt, who joined Wi­gan for £2m in the sum­mer of 2013 and played for them just 21 times in the league be­fore part­ing ways in Jan­uary.

Loans to As­ton Villa, Hud­der­s­field and Wolves punc­tu­ated that, while an an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment tear in De­cem­ber 2014 and a man­age­rial merry-go-round at the DW Sta­dium worked against him.

Lat­ics’ lat­est boss, Gary Cald­well, saw no place for Holt in his side but the ex­pe­ri­enced striker was not about to sit there lick­ing his wounds.

“He was open and hon­est enough to tell me his thoughts and I took it on the chin,” he said. “I’m not the first and I won’t be the last.You get in­jured, then you get fit and the new man­ager comes in and doesn’t want to play you at all.

“I got fit and sharp at Hud­der­s­field and then Malky Mackay wanted me to come back and play at Wi­gan but tragedy struck with the ACL. I have been very lucky over the years with in­jury but it hap­pened to me at that time of life.

Doubt

“There is al­ways that doubt in your mind that you might never come back from that sort of in­jury. Whether you are 20 or 35, there is al­ways that worry but there was never any doubt that I wanted to come back. If any­thing, it spurred me on.”

More specif­i­cally, it spurred him on to Rochdale, who be­gan the week­end a lowly 17th in League One. How­ever, they are also within sight of the play-offs.

“You are look­ing over your shoul­der and you are ten points off the drop but then you look up and you are ten points off the play-offs,” added Holt. “It de­pends which way you look at it. “We played against a very good

Sh­effield United side and beat them 2-0 – and you don’t do that by fluke. We are look­ing at mov­ing up­wards.

“It is nice to come back and there is a lit­tle bit of added pres­sure be­cause it is al­most ten years since I left. I am a very dif­fer­ent player but I have still got to show them the old Grant Holt. I have still got a lot to of­fer.”

PIC­TURE: Pro Sport

BACK IN THE OLD ROU­TINE: Grant Holt, left, is con­grat­u­lated on his goal against Sh­effield United last week­end

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

FIRST TIME AROUND: Holt play­ing for Rochdale in 2005

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