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Matt Holland's Blog 32

27 March 2013

The first time I clapped eyes on Kevin Davies he was a quick young left winger powering up and down the flanks for Chesterfield against my club at the time, Bournemouth.

He was pretty useful, too. Less well-built back then, he was very speedy and powerful and made quite a name for himself as an effective wide man in the lower echelons of The Football League. Since then of course he's developed his own very different style, as an old fashioned target man centre forward. And few players have done it better.

This week Bolton Wanderers announced that they would be releasing Kevin when his contract expires at the end of the season, and at 36 it's a real shame for him. I sense he wanted to end his career at the Reebok, but from what I gather he's determined to carry on playing next season and that means joining somebody else.

Whatever happens, Kevin Davies should be regarded as a true Bolton legend. He's been there just shy of 10 years and has been an excellent presence both on and off the pitch during that period. He's never been an ultra-prolific one-goal-in-two type of striker, but he's offered Bolton so much more as an all-rounder that does a terrific job for the side. He's a proper team player.

I understand the decision from both sides. Kevin will feel sad and upset, but from Dougie Freedman's perspective I see his reasoning and desire to lower the average age of his squad. He needs to mould the squad in his own image, and to inject fresh legs into the side.

There seems to be a debate raging over whether Kevin Davies will or won't be granted a testimonial by Bolton. I hope that he gets one. Like many other modern players who've earned huge sums of cash from playing, I hear he's planning to raise money for charity from the event - and all being well I would be surprised if he didn't get the green light.

A testimonial would be a fabulous way for him to say goodbye to the fans too.

In the future I think testimonials will be used more often as charity fundraisers when players don't need the money themselves. That makes sense. It should always be there choice though, of course. After all, playing for one club for so long will have meant they missed out on bumper pay days, and I do believe loyalty like that should be recognised.

I hope testimonials don't become extinct. Players in League 1 or 2 that haven't been fortunate to receive big wages fully deserve a pay day if they reach 10 years with the same club. It's a rare feat in the modern game and one that deserves to be noted by clubs.

This week the npower Football League Awards night took place and I was very interested to note that Matej Vydra and Thomas Ince were awarded the Player of the Year, and Young Player of the Year awards respectively.

Glenn Murray, Crystal Palace's top scorer, can count himself a little unlucky but all in all I feel these two guys were worthy recipients. They've both enjoyed outstanding campaigns.

I hadn't heard of Vydra this time last year. To be honest, I doubt that many people outside of Italy or the Czech Republic had.

What an impact he's made. Quick, inventive and with a striker's eye for goal, he has inspired Watford this year.

Will Vydra stay? It all depends on which division they're in next season. If Watford get promoted I'd assume he was likely to stay on at Vicarage Road. If they don't go up, he'll be off. He's been so good that a top flight club in Europe is bound to offer him a really good deal to join them.

And what about Thomas Ince? Rumour has it Liverpool are back in for him, and I'd be surprised if his dad will be able to stand in his way. I genuinely don't know if Paul's managerial status means he has a better or worse chance of staying at Blackpool, but after the season he's had he does deserve to play at a higher level.

The fact that Thomas Ince was named Young Player of the Year in the same season that Manchester United signed Wilfried Zaha says it all. He's had to be special to win the gong this season when the Palace whiz kid has been doing so well himself.

The Easter weekend is going to be so, so exciting. Season-defining moments await us.

For me, Nottingham Forest against Brighton and Hove Albion is the pick of the bunch. They are two great footballing sides in really good form, gunning for the Play-Off spots. If you can get a ticket for that one, I'd recommend it!

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