WHEN non-league striker Greg Luer agreed terms to join Hull City last November, the deal caused barely a ripple in the East Riding.
The Tigers, fresh from spending the best part of £40m in the previous summer’s transfer window, were enduring a miserable month on the field with a run of four straight defeats that included truly awful displays at Burnley and Manchester United.
Attention, therefore, was understandably focused elsewhere when the then teenage Sussex-born forward moved north from Ryman South Premier League side Burgess Hill.
That continued to be the case as Hull fought an ultimately doomed fight against relegation, Luer’s only brief moment in the spotlight being a loan move to Port Vale in February that was called short after just two appearances from the bench.
Opportunities in the Championship have proved just as hard to come by this time around, but the 20-year-old has more than made up for that with a starring role in Hull’s Capital One Cup run.
Not only has Luer scored in both rounds against Accrington and Rochdale courtesy of a firm header and a clinical low finish, respectively, but the forward also held his nerve to score in the penalty shoot-out that was needed to see off League Two Stanley at the Crown Ground.
Tonight, he is pushing for a second start in Hull colours and team-mate Sam Clucas believes Luer deserves his moment in the spotlight.
“From day one,” said the £1.3m summer arrival from Chesterfield, “I have been impressed with him. Not only Greg but a couple of the other younger lads like Calaum (Jahraldo-Martin) and Dicko (Matty Dixon) who have been here a while.
“I honestly didn’t realise they were young lads when I first came in. I thought they were seasoned professionals, the way they went out in training. They have never looked out of place to me.
“You can tell that when they have come on in games, especially Greg in the last couple of League Cup ties.
“He has come on, taken his chances and he has done well. We will have to see if he has managed to keep his place, that is up to the manager. But he deserves his place in this game.”
Luer may have to be content with a place on the bench. Swansea are, after all, a different class to Rochdale, the opponents on his only previous start when he netted the only goal of the game after just nine minutes.
But there is little doubt that the 20-year-old, brought to Bruce’s attention by his former Gillingham team-mate Dean White last year, has already made a mark on this season.
Clucas has done the same, the wideman – who will be 25 on Friday – having featured in all 10 of Hull’s fixtures.
Having crashed out at the first round stage with Mansfield Town in his two previous appearances in the League Cup, the graduate from Glenn Hoddle’s Academy in Spain is already enjoying his best run.
“I have not really done much in the League Cup before and it is obviously going to be a really tough test,” he said. “Swansea are a Premier League club, they are coming here and I am sure they will put out a strong team.
“You look at the players they have got and how well they are doing in the Premier League, so we can expect a tough test. If we can get a win, it will really show where we are as a team and a club.
“Hopefully, we can look to go as far as we can in the competition. Every player wants to win trophies and if you have got the chance of doing that in the League Cup, then, hopefully, we can get as far as we can and try to get one of those trophies.”
Bruce is planning changes tonight after a gruelling travelling schedule for the Tigers over the past 10 days or so but Clucas, who started the ties against both Accrington and Rochdale, wants to play.
“I will put my hand up, 100 per cent,” he said. “I want to play as many games as I can. I would have played on Sunday if we’d had a game. Hopefully, I will be in the team.”
Swansea, of course, have a fine recent pedigree in the competition after beating Bradford City 5-0 at Wembley in the 2013 final.
Garry Monk’s men also saw off White Rose opposition in the form of York City to reach the third round.
Hull lost twice to the Swans last term in the top flight but Monk is forecasting a tough challenge for his men.
“Hull are a good team. They have started well and they are a strong outfit,” said Monk. “They have retained a lot of their players from last season, so we are going to have to be on form to get a result.
“My team selection will be about who can help us win.”
Last six games: Hull City LWWLWD, Swansea City WDWWLD.
Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight).
Last time: Hull City 0 Swansea City 1; December 20, 2014; Premier League.