WITH three Scottish Cup winners’ medals and five triumphs in the Scottish League Cup to his name, Allan McGregor is something of a knockout football specialist.
So, when the 32-year-old goalkeeper insists Hull City are in an enviable position in the FA Cup despite next week having to play twice in three days then it is worth taking note.
“The big thing with the Cup is still being in it,” said McGregor, who returned from suspension in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion in the fifth round. “That may sound a bit obvious, but nights like Monday show how the result is everything. We could have played a lot better but the big thing is we are still in it.
“We were 1-0 down with only a few minutes to go so to come back like we did was huge.”
Yannick Sagbo rescued a replay at the KC Stadium next Monday with an 86th-minute equaliser.
Considering the Tigers had twice hit the crossbar in the first half, a second chance of progressing was probably what Steve Bruce’s men deserved. That said, their performance had been way below the standards set in this season’s Premier League.
Despite that, Hull still have a golden opportunity to reach Wembley with the winners of next Monday’s replay set to host Sunderland – a team over which Bruce’s men have already completed the league double this term – in the quarter-finals.
McGregor added: “It is a home draw, which is good, but we have to get through this one first before we can talk about the next round.
“We go to Cardiff before facing Brighton again and it isn’t great to have two games in three days, I think it is to do with the Champions League. But what can you do? The FA Cup is the biggest one in the world.”
Bruce is far from happy to have to play twice in three days after UEFA, European football’s governing body, told member nations that no major domestic games can take place on the same night as Champions League football.
Last season, UEFA did not enforce the rule and the change has not pleased the Tigers’ manager.
He said: “I find that ridiculous. Surely we can play on the same night as the Champions League. It is quite bizarre for them to say to the FA we can’t play on the same night. I don’t think there will be many tuning out of Manchester City against Barcelona to tune in to Hull City and Brighton.”
Bruce will have to rotate his squad with Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic certain to come in against Cardiff on Saturday after being ineligible at Brighton.
Even so, with injuries beginning to mount – Robbie Brady is the latest to be ruled out after his groin problem once again flared last weekend – Hull could have done with the extra 24 hours that a replay on Tuesday would have brought.
Bruce said: “We have our two centre-forwards to come in on Saturday so that freshens it up.
“We might not have the biggest of squads but we are still in the hat, and if we win on Monday then the Cup really opens up. We have to give ourselves a chance.”
Paul McShane has undergone surgery on the ligament injury that last week ended his season and it is expected that the Irish defender will go under the knife again next week.