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Holtby encouraged to combine skill with hard work

Tony Mowbray wants his players to mix work-rate with undoubted ability this season

30 August 2020

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Manager Tony Mowbray is pleased Lewis Holtby’s injury isn’t as bad as first feared and he hopes the German midfielder can be a big player for Rovers this season.

The 29-year-old, who missed several months of last season with a knee ligament injury, scored a fantastic free-kick in yesterday’s 3-2 victory over Doncaster Rovers, before limping off just before the break.

But speaking after the Carabao Cup tie, Mowbray confirmed that the diagnosis wasn’t something serious.

“Lewis got a stud puncture in his shin, right through to the bone,” said the Rovers boss.

“I had a few of them in my career. They look really nasty, because you can see the bone, but the doctor stitched it up and he’ll be fine hopefully, as long as it doesn’t get infected.

“It’s not muscular, it’s not a strain, it’ll be a bit sore for a day or two, but then hopefully he should be alright by the middle of the week.”

After arriving from Hamburg last September, Holtby scored three goals in 16 league starts for Rovers last term, as the former Spurs and Fulham midfielder returned to English football.

Given the number 10 shirt for the upcoming Championship campaign, following Danny Graham’s departure, Mowbray hopes Holtby can nail down a permanent place in the starting XI, by combining work-rate with his undoubted ability.

“Lewis did alright last season,” said the manager. “He scored a couple of goals at Sheffield Wednesday.

“Lewis has to recognise how this team is going to play and if he wants to get in the team, he has to play on the front foot, he has to use his experience, he has to work really hard out of possession, because in possession we know how talented he is.

“We can see how wonderful his left foot is, but football at this level is more than just how wonderful you are on the ball, you’ve got to work hard off the ball. Lewis has got some growth to do in that as well, but he uses his voice better than most in our team and that’s why he started against Doncaster.

“The message has been loud and clear to the whole group, you have to earn your place to get in this team this year.”

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