Good Player Guide #20 – David ‘Junior’ Hoilett
David ‘Junior’ Hoilett
(Blackburn Rovers / undecided (eligible to represent various nations))
Junior Hoilett’s fine form this season has been a big contributing factor to the fact Blackburn Rovers are still in with a chance of Premier League survival. Alongside Yakubu the pair have contributed 20 goals this season as Blackburn have scored more goals than any other team outside the top 6.
It is these goals that have been crucial to Blackburn’s survival bid and Hoilett has generally speaking been at the heart of all things good about Blackburn this season, with several dynamic displays that have begun to catch the eye of other Premier League managers.
A product of Blackburn’s youth academy, Hoilett has been at Rovers since the age of 13, but the Canadian was loaned out as a teenager in order to help with work permit issues. Hoilett, nicknamed Junior, spent the 2007/8 season at Bundesliga II outfit SC Paderborn and then 2008/9 at St. Pauli where 26 appearances, 6 goals, 4 assists and a string of high quality performances impressed then Rovers manager Sam Allardyce.
Although there were some administrative problems, Hoilett was eventually granted a work permit in 2009. His star since has only risen and he could now join the likes of fellow academy graduates Phil Jones and Damien Duff in securing a move to a ‘bigger’ Premier League side this summer, regardless of whether Blackburn go down. But how good is Junior Hoilett?
A statistical comparison of Hoilett and other Premier League players in 2011/12
(stats via WhoScored.com)
At just 21 Hoilett is possibly the brightest young winger in the league. Most adept playing on either flank, Hoilett has mainly been used operating on the left this season or playing just behind Yakubu.
With seven goals as well as five assists Hoilett’s record this season is very good. In contrast to Stewart Downing for example, who cost £20 million and has failed to score or get an assist from the left flank for Liverpool.
No player in the league has completed more dribbles per game than Hoilett who like Nani is adept at running at full-backs and exploiting space in behind opposition defenders. Antonio Valencia, the most out-and-out winger listed above, has recorded 13 assists and scored 4 times and is probably the most in-form right winger in the league, but statistically Hoilett is not far off.
Like Nani, Hoilett can play on either flank although Nani is more of a touch-line hugging winger, even when operating from the left. Nani has created more chances with 2.4 key passes per game this season but Hoilett completes more dribbles.
Luis Suarez is probably most comfortable playing as a support striker, a position Hoilett also plays at times in behind Yakubu. The Canadian youngster, who is also eligible to play for USA or Jamaica and is yet to decide on international representation, has scored only one fewer than Suarez and has 2 more assists, making him more productive for Blackburn than Suarez has been for Liverpool.
Hoilett’s form this season has been undeniably good. He offers an explosiveness that could be an asset to most top teams.
Watching him against Liverpool on April 10th, he operated as an attacking midfielder or second striker but he is positionally adaptable and can play on either flank. He arguably had a quieter game but came to life after a poor back pass by Flanagan and his quick feet and pace earned Blackburn a penalty and Liverpool’s keeper a red card.
Hoilett’s two assists versus Bolton earlier this season that can be viewed hereepitomise his quality. The first assist is typical as he raids down the left to pull it back inside for Yakubu but the second demonstrates more control as he comes into a more central position and plays a top quality through ball.
Given Junior Hoilett’s fine form for Blackburn this season there will be many clubs looking at him as a potential summer signing, especially if they go down. At just 21 and with his ability to operate on either flank as well as behind the striker he could be a good option for many clubs, with Spurs and Liverpool often linked.
As an academy graduate of Blackburn it would be interesting to see if Hoilett stayed on for another season were Blackburn to stay up. “I’ve been here since the age of 13, which is a long time,” he has previously commented. “I have developed here as a player and a person and I would like to stay here.”
If Blackburn are relegated though a move could be on the cards, and possibly on the cheap. With such high figures banded around for young players in today’s game Hoilett could surely fetch a high price were he to leave.
If you compare his stats to other players in his position it is clear that at just 21 Hoilett has a very bright future ahead of him. Rovers boss Steve Kean has admitted on a number of occasions that Blackburn have a battle on their hands to keep Hoilett this season, with a number of sides interested.
There will likely be a fair few suitors come May whether Blackburn stay in the Premier League or not.
(photo credit: cn174 via Flickr)