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Hull City v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One - KCOM Stadium

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Fan Focus: Hull fan Luke says George Honeyman “has been a joy to watch this season!”

Ahead of tonight’s game we spoke to writer and Tigers Blah Blah Blah Podcast host Luke Flanagan to discuss his team’s 11-match unbeaten run, ex-Sunderland captain George Honeyman, and more...

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: Hull have been in the automatic promotion places for a large proportion of the season and are unbeaten in 11 matches - is promotion back to the Championship all but certain now?

Luke Flanagan: It’s never over until it’s over, is it? It’s extremely likely, but until the job is done and it’s mathematically secure I won’t be celebrating anything. There have been too many instances of City letting us down over the years, so that may explain my pessimism!

MC: Many called for Grant McCann to be sacked at the end of last season, but he looks set to win the League One title with Hull at the first time of asking - does he deserve mass credit for turning things around?

LF: He does. I was no fan of McCann after last season, but after it was clear he was going nowhere I reluctantly got behind him when others were still very much wanting him gone mid-season.

Some will never be happy, but I certainly wouldn’t trade McCann for anyone else in League One. I just hope that if we do go up, he learns from his mistakes in the relegation season - but I would be hopeful that will be the case.

MC: Hull possess the best defensive record in League One this season, conceding just 33 goals in 42 matches, what do you put that down to?

LF: A lot of it is Matt Ingram in my opinion. He is so loud from the goal, screaming and shouting at his defenders to constantly tell them where they need to be. The defence has been excellent overall and Jacob Greaves may take criticism in front of goal from some corners of the fan base, but in his debut season for City he’s been very dependable at the back next to either Reece Burke or Alfie Jones. Lewie Coyle and Callum Elder are a big part of it too. They are excellent going forward, but we normally look solid on both channels.

Hull City v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League One
Hull goalkeeper Matt Ingram has kept 16 clean sheets this season for Grant McCann’s side.
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

MC: George Honeyman is joint-top of the assists chart alongside Aiden McGeady on 13 assists, is this mainly through set-pieces or has the 26-year-old been creating chances frequently from open play?

LF: Maybe that was the thinking behind the question?! Many assists have been from free kicks, but George’s game is so much more than that. His energy is so important to the way we play and the yards he covers won’t really mean anything in terms of stats, but it means we can press teams and make them go long to win the ball back and start stretching the opposition. He’s been a joy to watch this season.

MC: 20-year-old winger Keane Lewis-Potter signed a new contract with Hull earlier this year, how important was it to tie down such a promising young talent?

LF: Very. I think it was naïve of McCann to talk about the contract dispute, as it caused very negative feelings towards the club and its owners. I’m glad it was sorted out as he wasn’t being played - and it made no sense not to play your best starting XI. He did have a dip in form, but you have to remember his age. A 19-year-old isn’t going to produce every week, but his form has massively improved since the contract dispute was solved.

MC: Hull’s top-scorer Mallik Wilks has scored 18 League One goals this season, his career-best total so far, what makes him so deadly at this level?

LF: I think it’s how much he’s working on his own game, to be honest. He is still inconsistent but has improved massively from last season. He’s still 22. There are times when he makes me tear my hair out, but on his day he’s one of the best players in the league. If he’s given time on the ball he’s deadly. He still needs to work on not throwing himself to the floor when things don’t go his way, and he gets annoyed really easily when the opposition are physical with him.

Crewe Alexandra v Hull City - Sky Bet League One
Mallik Wilks joined Hull on a permanent deal from Barnsley last summer and his 21 goals in all competitions is his career best total.
Photo by Mick Walker - CameraSport via Getty Images

MC: If Hull do achieve promotion back to the Championship, do you believe the club is in a suitable financial shape to compete at a higher level once again?

LF: I’d hope so. Not many of our players are left from previous seasons, and not many will be on huge money.

We’d need to be shrewd in the transfer market and not gamble too much, because if we went straight back down again I’d be very worried.

MC: Who are the eleven Hull players you believe McCann will select against Sunderland and what style of play can Lee Johnson’s side expect to encounter?

LF: He’ll go with pretty much the same XI he has over the past few games - barring Honeyman, who was missing at the weekend. So;

Ingram; Coyle, Jones, Greaves, Elder; Slater, Docherty, Honeyman, Wilks, Lewis Potter, Magennis.

MC: The two sides have drawn twice already this season, what is your honest prediction of the final score?

LF: I think it’ll be tight. I think that a draw will suit us better than Sunderland, but both sides will be desperate to win it for obvious reasons. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw, which was the same result as the game at your place in January.


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