ONLY Sam Clucas boasted more league appearances for Hull City last season than Andrew Robertson.
The Scottish international, therefore, knows just how much blood, sweat and tears went into ensuring the Tigers bounced back into the Premier League at the first attempt.
It is why top-flight status is so precious to Robertson and why the left-back will not give up his place among the elite lightly.
“All the players want to play in the Premier League,” said the 22-year-old ahead of today’s clash with Crystal Palace. “That is no secret. All Championship players want to play in the Premier League.
“Last season, we played nearly 60 games. You don’t do that to get relegated back to the Championship. I am at the stage of my career where I need to play at the highest level, and I would like to stay here with Hull.
“Our aim is to stay up. You don’t want another relegation on your CV. We managed to make up for the last one with promotion.
“My main aim is to keep this club up and that is the same for all the boys.
“As a squad, we are probably more equipped to battle it out (in a relegation scrap), but that doesn’t mean it is going to be any easier. Hopefully, we can dig deep and get safe as quick as we can.”
Since being brought south of the border by Steve Bruce in the summer of 2014, Robertson has been a revelation. His attacking forays down the left flank have become one of Hull’s most potent threats, while the full-back’s defending has come on hugely since those first few weeks in the Premier League following his transfer from Dundee United.
Liverpool and Arsenal are just two of the potential suitors to be linked with Robertson, whose current deal is set to run out this summer – albeit with the club understood to have an option to extend by 12 months.
On his future, the Scot added: “I have got six months left on my contract. I am not sure what the club are doing. The talks have kind of gone quiet and it is the same with a few of the other boys.
“But I am sure we’ll sort it, maybe January time. They are looking at targets and bringing in players, there is a lot going on and maybe players that are still in contract is not a priority for them just now.
“Hopefully, we can get something sorted. I am sure all of the boys are like that. If we can, we will be happy to negotiate and sign for the club.”
Harry Maguire is in a similar position to Robertson, as is Robert Snodgrass.
Asked whether he was relaxed about talks having not yet taken place, Robertson replied: “Yes. At the end of the day, these things don’t really affect me.
“If I am still wearing a Hull shirt, that is all my focus is, to give the best to the team and train the best. That will never change. I am quite relaxed about it. I would like to get something sorted one way or another but I am not worried about it.”
Hull host Palace knowing that victory would be enough to escape the bottom three for the first time since October 22, albeit possibly only on a temporary basis due to Leicester City kicking off at tea-time and West Ham United playing tomorrow.
To do so, however, Mike Phelan’s side surely must shake off their habit of starting slowly and then needing a second-half improvement to get back into games.
The Tigers have netted just twice in the opening 45 minutes of their 14 league outings this season – Adama Diomande’s stoppage-time strike against Leicester on the opening day and Ryan Mason’s deflected effort in the 6-1 hammering at Bournemouth.
It is a trait that is undoubtedly holding Hull back and also one that Robertson finds hard to explain.
“If we had the answer to that then we wouldn’t be a second-half team,” said Robertson, who missed just four of Hull’s 47 league and play-off matches last season.
“For whatever reason, we don’t score enough first-half goals and we are always chasing the game. We need to change that.
“Even the game we won against Southampton (last month), we had to come from behind. On the opening day, Leicester equalised and we had to go again.
“We have struggled to get the first goal and perhaps that has been our downfall. We have to start going in front.
“In this league, you need a full 90-minute performance to be bob-on. We have not had that as regularly as we want. We have got to put that right and hope it is enough to get the points.”
Last Monday’s defeat at Middlesbrough followed a similar pattern to other losses with Hull producing plenty of endeavour, but lacking sufficient quality to unduly trouble the opposition.
Hull were not helped by having just one fit striker available in Diomande due to suspension ruling out Dieumerci Mbokani and injury keeping both Abel Hernandez and Will Keane on the sidelines.
Shaun Maloney will be back today after injury, and Phelan is hoping the Tigers can produce a performance capable of lifting the gloom that continues to hover above the KCOM Stadium amid the on-going disillusionment felt by supporters towards the club’s owners.
“Since I have been here there has been a general undercurrent of opposition to everything,” said Phelan.
“Whenever there is a performance that is not liked or a player that is not playing well, it is easy to revert back to that type of mood.
“It has never gone away about the ownership of this club and it rears its head in every game we play, home or away. I am not saying that makes the players feel down or worse, but I do think it will be an encouragement if we just get on with the game of football and support the players that are on the field.”