Veteran Matt still enjoying playing days

MATT Holland may be half way through his coaching badges, but he bristles at the suggestion that he will soon be finished as a player.

Derek Davis

MATT Holland may be half way through his coaching badges, but he bristles at the suggestion that he will soon be finished as a player.

Arguably one of Ipswich Town's most popular players, and not just for lifting the Division One Play off final trophy, or leading the team into Europe two years running, Holland still has the same enthusiasm and vim at the Valley where he has notched up 191 appearances.

Holland said: “I have been signing one-year deals and that is the same this year, but I'm not saying it will be my final year.

“I still enjoy playing and all the time that is the case and I can still do a job I want to carry on playing.”

Although a career in television is also a possibility, a player/coach role somewhere when he eventually leaves Charlton is also an option.

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“We will see what happens,” is all he says.

Tonight will be Holland's 622nd senior game, with another 47 Republic of Ireland appearances to go with that, so Holland is not used to being sidelined.

Although Alan Curbishley made him captain on his debut for Charlton after his £800,000 move from Portman Road, Holland has found himself on the bench of late.

The 34-year-old started in the dug-out when the Addicks beat Town at the beginning of this month, but soon replaced the injured Nicky Bailey and showed he is still a class act in midfield.

He lost his place to 18-year-old debut-making Josh Wright against Burnley on Saturday, but again came off the bench to help Charlton to a 1-1 draw after being a goal down and it is his ultra-professional, never-give-up attitude that managers and fans love.

Holland said: “It is a squad game these days and with games on Saturday, Tuesday Saturday, relentlessly. I'm not going to play every game. Of course it is disappointing when you are left out, but it is how you respond to that which is important.

“You have to train hard, and show the same attitude at 33-34 as you did at 21-22 and react in the right way to change the manager's mind.

“It is no good sulking, you have to go and perform.”

That said Holland hopes to start at Portman Road tonight and use all his experience gleaned from playing 314 games, nearly 300 of them in an unbroken run, 46 goals.

He said: “Ipswich had a good result on Saturday and will be really up for this. We need to quieten the crowd and even if we don't score early on we need to we keep going. It is a wonderful atmosphere at Portman Road, especially under the lights, so we have to be up for it.

“Although we have not won since we beat Ipswich at The Valley, we have been playing very well in games, but we have been a bit unfortunate.

“Against Burnley we showed a lot of character in the second half to come back and get a point. Although it was not the result we wanted, we need to carry that second half performance on against Ipswich.”

Alan Pardew could return Holland to the midfield in place of Wright and look to use the Andy Gray and Svetoslav Todorov strike partnership against Town again.

Todorov scored the equaliser against Burnley when he replaced Izale Macleod, while Gray would replace Luke Varney.

On-loan Portsmouth duo Martin Cranie and Linvoy Primus are expected to keep their places at the back.