Hull cITY’S captain Curtis Davies last night insisted the FA Cup finalists are capable of coping with the dual demands of Europe and the Premier League after being handed a trip behind the former Iron Curtain on their Europa League debut.
The Tigers must travel to either Slovakia or Serbia in the third qualifying round after being paired with the winners of the AS Trencin versus Vojvodina tie.
With the Slovakian side 4-0 ahead going into next Thursday’s second leg, it is likely Steve Bruce’s men will be heading to the town of Dubnica – which is where Trencin play their ‘home’ games in Europe due to their own stadium having a capacity of just 4,500.
The return will then be at the KC Stadium on August 7.
Providing Hull can negotiate those two games safely, they would then compete in the two-legged play-off round with the prize at stake being a place in the group stage.
If Hull can make it that far, it means they will have not only played an extra 10 games before Christmas, but also had their schedule heavily disrupted due to league games after Europa League ties being played on a Sunday.
Despite that, Tigers’ captain Davies is confident that the Yorkshire club’s squad will thrive in such demanding circumstances.
He said: “If you have got this far, then you might as well go as far as you can.
“If that wasn’t the case, we might as well send the kids and let them play. And if they went on to win it then good for them.
“But, to us, this is again about making history for the club.
“We don’t want to bow out with a whimper, just because we are worried about the League.”
Davies understands the rigours of playing in Europe, having played in the Europa League and its predecessor, the UEFA Cup, with Aston Villa and Birmingham City.
“Sometimes you find yourself playing catch-up,” said the 29-year-old defender.
“But that was more so at Birmingham because we were in the Championship.
“We would have to sometimes miss a Tuesday (league) game to play in Europe and that meant we were soon three or four games behind everyone else.
“That can be what happens but in the Premier League there aren’t that many early-season midweek games so I am hoping it won’t be too much of a distraction and we can do it right by getting the best of both worlds.
“I see it as similar to what I said at Birmingham, and that winning breeds confidence.
“To go into some of those games and beat good European sides, we would then be able to take that confidence into Sunday matches and, hopefully, get the wins there.”
Hull will be stepping into something of the unknown regardless of who prevails in this Thursday’s second leg in Serbia.
If, as seems likely, Trencin do make it through, Hull will be taking on a side who finished last season as runners-up in the Slovakian League and are competing in Europe for the second time after reaching the third qualifying round a year ago.
After hearing of the possibility of facing Premier League opposition, Trencin manager Martin Sevela said: “Hull are the most attractive opponent from our pot.
“For Slovak players it could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play against a team from the Premier League.”
As for Davies, he admitted to not knowing too much about Hull’s prospective third-round opponents.
He was, though, relieved not to be paired with Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk, who were one of 12 sides that Bruce’s men could have met in pot two.
Luhansk is located in the far east of the troubled country where the Malaysia Airlines flight crashed on Thursday.
Davies said: “With the things that are going on in Europe at the moment, we were a bit concerned (where we could be drawn).
“The fact that we have got a Slovakian team was a bit of a relief.
“I did see there was a Ukrainian team in our pot, so we are just glad we’re going somewhere where there’s not a lot of trouble going on.
“Hopefully, we can go there and win a game of football.”
On the challenge of facing Trencin, the Hull captain added: “We learned about the draw as we landed (yesterday lunchtime on the squad’s way back from a pre-season training camp in Portugal) and it is looking like Slovakia.
“I can’t say any of the lads knew much about them but if you’re in a European competition you must have done well in your own country, either by virtue of a league finish or a cup win.
“They must have done something right so we need to go there and take it seriously.”
Leeds United are banking on foreign legion: Page 2.