Wes Hoolahan hailed as one of best Cambridge United players in recent times

Wes Hoolahan has been hailed as one of the best Cambridge United players in recent times by head coach Mark Bonner.

The 38-year-old former Republic of Ireland international received the Player of the Month award for January for his recent performances.

The attacking midfielder scored two goals and provided two assists from five appearances in the month.

Hoolahan has helped the U’s to move up from eighth place at the start of the year to sit top of League Two heading into today’s match against Southend United.

Bonner, who also claimed the Manager of the Month award after the U’s picked up 14 points from six matches in January, said: “He was really pleased when he found out, as we were for him.

“He’s had an excellent season so far, he was excellent in January, his influence is massive around the place and on the team.

“We’re lucky to have him, and we’re really happy to have him, and we hope to see many more performances between now and the end of the season like he gave us in January.

“I think he has an influence on everybody. It doesn’t matter how old you are, his influence is across the whole team.

“Because of his quality, it’s a privilege for us to have him here, and a privilege for our players to play with him.

“I’m really disappointed our supporters can’t see him live, because there won’t be many better players in recent times that have played for us.

Wes Hoolahan in action against Bradford City. Photo: David Johnson Photographic

“Disappointing for them that they can’t see him at the moment, but from our perspective, we love having him here, we know what he gives us, the players really enjoy playing with him.

“I think on top of that, when you have the values that we have here, he just fits them perfectly.

“He’s a really down to earth man, who has had a brilliant career, but rolls his sleeves up with the rest of us and gets on with it as it is.

“That humility, as well as his talent and work ethic when on a match day, can rub off on everybody. That’s the recipe that we want here.”

The 38-year-old has played at the highest level in the Premier League with Norwich City, as well as making 43 appearances for his country.

The attacking midfielder, who has predominantly played in a left midfield role in a 4-4-2 formation for the U’s this season, has made 22 appearances in all competitions this campaign.

Wes Hoolahan scoring his second goal of the season against Leyton Orient. Photo: Warren Gunn

Hoolahan has been frequently rested in midweek in order to play to his full potential in weekend matches, and Bonner spoke of how easy the summer signing has been to manage since joining the club.

“You’re talking to a 38-year-old who knows his body and knows how to get the best out of himself better than anyone can tell him,” the head coach added.

“A lot of it is led by them (the players). One of the key values is responsibility, we want to give players responsibility to let us know, and we have an honesty about us that says ‘just tell the truth and say where you are’. There’s no drama and no pressure in that.

“I think we have a good relationship, really open dialogue, we’ve found a formula at the moment that’s helping him get the best out of himself, and we have to manage him throughout the rest of the season.

“He really enjoyed the last month in a really tough slog of a month, and hopefully when the pitches turn that will really help him even more so to improve.

“Obviously delighted with him so far, he’s a very low maintenance character, easy to manage, a good influence around the team, and I think there’s more to come from him too.”

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