HAD things worked out differently over the New Year, Isaac Hayden would have been lining up today against Hull City.
The loanee, frustrated at his lack of opportunities at the KC Stadium during the first half of the season, attracted the attention of Fulham and a couple of other clubs over the festive season.
So strong was that interest, in fact, that Steve Bruce seemed resigned to Hayden cutting short his stay in Yorkshire to take up the opportunity to play elsewhere in the Championship.
Three or so weeks on, however, and Hayden is not only still at the Tigers but also back in the team, netting his maiden senior goal last Saturday in the six-goal romp against Charlton Athletic.
“I was flattered to receive quite a few offers,” said Hayden when asked about the recent uncertainty over his immediate future. “They noticed I was not playing as much as I wanted to play. They got in touch with Arsenal and asked about my situation.
“But, as far as I am concerned, I am a Hull City player and 100 per cent committed, though it has been a bit frustrating at times because when I have played I have done the right things and given 100 per cent.”
New Cottagers manager Slavisa Jokanovic being appointed is believed to be behind Hayden’s possible move to west London stalling and their loss could well prove to be City’s gain.
Certainly, Bruce is happy to still have the midfielder in his squad, the Hull chief even suggesting in the wake of the Charlton victory that he would like to make the switch permanent.
Hayden added: “I was quite flattered when he said that. Steve, as a manager, has been fantastic to me. As for the future, everyone knows how tough it is at Arsenal with the players they sign. The competition for places is always going to make it tough to break through.
“Maybe it is something to think about in the summer. I just keep my options open.”
The Tigers return to the capital a little over three weeks on from beating QPR. Those three points ended a damaging run of results on the road that had yielded just one point from a possible 12 and sparked fears that City’s form away from the KC could undermine the club’s hopes of a Premier League return.
With today being the first of four consecutive away games, Hayden admits the squad has a big chance to lay such fears to bed. “We need to start on the front foot from the word go,” he added.