Hull City v Milton Keynes Dons - Tom Huddlestone confident Tigers have the right blend to hold their nerve

COUNTS: Hull Citys Tom Huddlestone is aiming to add a promotion to his already impressive CV. Picture: Simon Hulme
COUNTS: Hull Citys Tom Huddlestone is aiming to add a promotion to his already impressive CV. Picture: Simon Hulme
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TOM HUDDLESTONE’S footballing CV is an impressive affair.

England caps, Champions League football and Cup final success at Wembley can all be found on that resume along with a passing radar that once drew favourable comparisons with Glenn Hoddle.

Much of his 13 years in football have been spent in the Premier League but he cut his professional teeth in the game as a Championship player with Derby County.

A successful fight against relegation in his debut campaign for the Rams was followed by the claiming of a place in the play-offs 12 months later, only for the Midlands club to be beaten by Preston North End in the semi-finals.

It means that, among all those notable achievements in Huddlestone’s career, there is one glaring omission. That is a promotion, which is something he is finally hoping to rectify with Hull City over the next couple of months.

“Promotion would be brilliant,” the former England international told The Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s home encounter with Milton Keynes Dons.

“I haven’t played as many times as I would have liked (this season). But I do still feel a big part of it. Getting up would be great, especially when you consider how tight it has been. It looks like being an exciting end to the season.

“To me, it seems like it might be two from four (for automatic promotion). Normally, two points per game would get you up but it seems there are three or four of us on course to get close to that (number of points).

“It is going to go right down to the wire. Whoever holds their nerve the best will end up getting the prize.”

If, as Huddlestone suggests, the race for the top flight is to be decided by who can hold their nerve among the challenging pack then Hull seem well served with such characters.

A look around the home dressing room at the KC Stadium today will reveal a host of players who have been there and done it in their careers. From Michael Dawson and Allan McGregor at the back through to Mo Diame and Abel Hernandez up front, Steve Bruce has plenty of experience at the very top of the game to call upon during the final dozen games of the season.

Huddlestone is hoping to play a big part during that run-in and he is certainly someone who knows all about the emotional roller-coaster that can prevail at this time of year.

“I think our experience could help,” he added. “There are a few of us who are older, more experienced and know not to get too upbeat or downbeat when results happen.

“Then, there are the younger ones who are a bit blind to it and just enjoy every day for what it is. That gives us a decent blend. All the staff try to keep everyone calm as well, so we should be all right.”

Huddlestone’s first experience of just how high the stakes can be towards a season’s end came at the very start of his career. He was just 17 at the time, as Derby fought for their Championship lives.

He recalls: “In my first season at Derby, I was just concentrating on playing. But I remember we were in trouble and had to play MK Dons in the third last game. There was a lot of pressure but we won to stay up and eventually finished fifth bottom.

“Then, the following year, the same squad finished fourth. That shows how the Championship can be up and down.”

Asked if, bearing in mind how young he was at the time of Derby’s relegation play-off tussles, he was tempted to pass on any advice to Hull’s own young guns, Huddlestone replied: “I wouldn’t say I look out for the young lads.

“They are full of confidence and lively every day. They take care of themselves. But if we can give any advice or just show after matches that it is not a case of being devastated after a loss or being over the moon after a victory, maybe that can help.

“That is key, because there are ups and downs. Every team has them. Look at Middlesbrough. Not long ago, they were five or six points clear but they have had a couple of losses recently and a few of their players will probably be thinking it is the end of the world.

“But they are still right in the mix, same as we are. We would rather have the points on the board but we have two games in hand on a lot of the teams around us so we have to capitalise on that by getting maximum points.”

Huddlestone may have a football CV to rival anyone in the Championship but this season has been far from plain-sailing for the 29-year-old.

Of City’s 34 league outings, he has started less than half. Injury has not been the problem, as is underlined by the midfielder having come off the bench 12 times, and he admits that being stuck on the bench has been tough.

“It has been very frustrating at times,” he said. “It can be difficult at times when out of the team for weeks and weeks on end without knowing the reason. That can be difficult.

“But we are all in it together and I don’t want to be sulking around the place, having a negative effect on others.”

Huddlestone’s lack of starts has come at a time when his contract is down to the final few months. Talks have taken place but he admits to being in the dark over his own future.

“I don’t know what is happening,” he said. “Nothing has been offered in writing. I don’t have a clue (if he will be here next season). Nothing has been put to me in writing so it is not as if I am turning contracts down. I don’t know, you will have to ask the club.

“I leave that to my agent to deal with. As the manager has said, if we get promoted then, first of all, it will be great on the CV. But then it puts everyone in a better position with regards a contract or moving on.

“Hopefully, we can get up and the rest can take care of itself.”