BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HIBERNIAN boss Neil Lennon has lauded Grant Holt’s quality and desire – despite the veteran striker’s modest goal tally.
The 35-year-old has only found the net once since making the move north of the border, scoring in the 4-0 demolition of Morton at Easter Road in August.
However, Lennon insists the Norwich City legend is invaluable to the Hibees cause, and believes that was illustrated perfectly by Holt’s tireless showing during Saturday’s bruising 0-0 draw against Raith Rovers.
Holt led the line admirably after Marvin Bartley’s red card left Hibs down to 10-men and never shirked the physical battle with Kyle Benedictus and Jean-Yves M’Voto, helping the capital club claim a point that sent them to the top of the Championship.
“I hope he doesn’t get a drug test after that performance!” joked the Hibs boss after handing the powerful striker his first start since September 17.
“It’s sheer force of will to work hard in attack and in defence. We’ve rested him the last couple of weeks to bring more pace into the side but certainly, in games like Saturday, he is pivotal to the way we play.
“We were brilliant, particularly in the second half, against Raith. The whole team were terrific. It was the best we have played and they gave me absolutely everything.
“But I thought Grant was outstanding, he used all of his experience and put some lovely deliveries into the box.
“I thought their back-four really struggled to deal with Grant. We took him off at the end because he was tired, but my front three were excellent. They worked their tails off and I’m very proud of them.”
Meanwhile, Liam Fontaine grabbed a goal on his return to action as the Hibs defender nears a first-team comeback.
The 30-year-old suffered a calf injury during the Hibees’ 2-1 triumph over Dunfermline on August 13 and has missed the capital club’s last nine fixtures.
However, he started for the club’s under-20 side yesterday against their Motherwell counter-parts and bagged the opener in a 3-0 win before being withdrawn after 63 minutes.