Lee Holmes is a Mansfield born footballer, who predominantly plies his trade as a left sided midfielder. Holmes was born on the 2nd April 1987 and joined Derby County as a youngster. He was very highly rated coming through the ranks at Pride Park, appearing for the Under 18 side when he was just 14 years old. He also starred for England at youth level, scoring against Northern Ireland for the U16's after just 38 seconds in the Victory Shield.
Holmes became Derby's youngest ever player on Boxing Day 2002. He was just 15 years and 268 days old when he replaced Paul Boertien in the 76th minute of a 3-1 defeat to Grimsby. He made two further appearances that season, against Wolves on New Year's Day, and again three days later in an FA Cup tie at Brentford. Holmes also played a big role in helping England Under 17's side qualify for the European Championship that summer. He later managed an impressive six goals at Under 19 level.
Holmes became a regular for the Rams during the 2003/04 season, making 24 appearances in total. He made his first ever start in a 1-1 home draw against Sunderland in September, and scored his first ever senior goal in a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Midlands rivals Coventry City. It wasn't long before Holmes attracted the attention of some of the biggest names of English football. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Chelsea wanted Holmes as part of their recruitment drive for young English players. The young winger would remain at Pride Park however.
After finding his first team opportunities limited at promotion chasing Derby in the 2004/05 season, Holmes was loaned to Swindon. He made his debut for The Robins on Boxing Day 2004 at Peterborough. He stayed at the County Ground for most of the rest of the season, before returning for one final appearance at Derby against Preston in May.
Holmes failed to progress as well as most would have hoped, as his career was hampered by injury. He made 21 appearances for Derby during the 2005/06 season. He spent the beginning of the 2006/07 season on loan at Bradford as part of a transfer deal that saw Nathan Doyle move in the opposite direction to Pride Park. He managed to go the whole calendar year of 2007 without making a single first team appearance. A trial at Dutch outfit NAC Breda came to nothing. He moved to Walsall on loan in early 2008 and was released by Derby at the end of the season when his contract expired.
After receiving interest from Nottingham Forest and Leeds, Holmes decided to make Southampton his new home in the summer of 2008. Saints manager Jan Poortvliet compared him to Arjen Robben shortly after snapping up the young winger. He made a great start to his Saints career, scoring in his second game for the club in a League Cup tie at Exeter. Holmes put in a storming performance on August 23rd 2008, tearing his old Derby County side to pieces in a fantastic team display. He was equally impressive a few days later in a 2-0 cup win against Birmingham, where he scored the opening goal. Unfortunately Holmes would break down with an injury at QPR a few weeks later, which ruled him out for months. The midfielder made his comeback against Reading at the end of December, but only managed another month in the first team before another injury, this time at Norwich. Holmes wouldn't play again all season.
Holmes fell down the pecking order at Southampton during the 2009/10 season as the club were allowed to splash the cash under the new ownership of Marcus Liebherr. Injury problems continued too as he only made 8 appearances over the whole campaign.
Holmes was given first team opportunities at the start of Nigel Adkins reign as Southampton manager during the 2010/11 season, but unfortunately went down with an ankle injury during an FA Cup tie against Cheltenham, which was expected to rule him out for the remainder of the season. He did return to fitness in May however, and was an unused sub in the penultimate match of the campaign at Plymouth.
Holmes performed well in early Carling Cup matches during 2011/12, providing assists against Torquay and Swindon. League opportunities were few and far between, although he score a fabulous long range effort just minutes after coming on against Watford on October 1st. Holmes provided some very good crosses, but also had a tendency to run in straight lines. His direct style didn't really fit in with Nigel Adkins's plans. He made a few appearances over the New Year period, before being loaned to League 2 outfit Oxford. Holmes shone at the Kassam, helping United to a 2-0 win over rivals Swindon. That display caught the eye of Paolo Di Canio, who later convinced Holmes to join his County Ground side. Holmes played at Wembley in the Football League Trophy final defeat to Chesterfield, before helping Swindon to a League 2 title win. He scored the winner against Northampton on 9th April 2012.
Saints decided against renewing Holmes's contract when it expired in the summer of 2012