Liverpool v Hull City: Star man Curtis Davies still dreams of getting England call

MAIN MAN: Hull City's Curtis Davies.
 Picture: Bruce Rollinson
MAIN MAN: Hull City's Curtis Davies. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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CURTIS DAVIES is grounded enough as an individual not to have his head turned by statistics.

Nevertheless, the claim by a respected football data website earlier this month that he was, on this season’s form, the best defender in European football did bring a smile to the 31-year-old’s face.

Hull City caretaker manager Mike Phelan.

Hull City caretaker manager Mike Phelan.

Hull City’s captain in the absence of the injured Michael Dawson has certainly been at the top of his game with more interceptions, clearances and blocks so far this term than any other defender in the big five leagues of the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1.

Of course, as Mark Twain once opined, there are lies, damned lies and statistics – something that Davies appreciates as much as the next man. But, when asked yesterday about being rated by fantasy football website Oulala.com as the best defender on the continent, there was no mistaking the sense of satisfaction at the contribution he has made since Hull returned to the top flight.

“I like the idea of having a decent contribution, in terms of clearances, blocks and interceptions,” said Davies ahead of today’s trip to Anfield.

“I am happy to be in those sorts of lists, but to say you are the best defender in Europe based on stats, I don’t buy into that.

“If you are playing for Hull, you are going to have a lot more blocks, tackles and headers than if you are playing for Manchester City or Arsenal.

“It also depends on the types of teams you are playing against.

“If you play in Spain, you are probably not going to be facing as many crosses as you do in the Premier League.

“You saw when we played Arsenal (last weekend), I was praying for crosses to come into the box so I could head them clear. Instead, everything was just in front of us.

“That is why you can’t read too much into it. I just like to know that I am doing my job to the best of my ability when it comes to those defensive things.

“But best defender in Europe? I would love it to be true, but it is a bit far from the mark.”

Davies’s form has been a factor in Hull being able to make light of a summer that proved as tough as any newly-promoted club had faced since the advent of the Premier League in 1992.

Steve Bruce’s departure amid an injury crisis that would leave the Tigers without four key members of last season’s squad for the opening weeks and months was bad enough.

But an inability to bring in any new faces until the final 36 hours of the transfer window meant Mike Phelan, still in temporary charge more than nine weeks after Bruce’s shock exit, had just 11 fit senior outfield players when the campaign got under way on August 13.

That the East Riding club will today travel the full length of the M62 sitting 12th in the table with seven points from five games is testament to how everyone at the KCOM Stadium has pulled together in such trying circumstances.

Davies, as the man sporting the armband, has had a big part to play and his performances have been such that there was a push for Sam Allardyce to name the Hull defender in his first England squad.

That did not materialise, but Davies, a former Under-21s international, has not given up on his international ambitions.

“I really wouldn’t know,” he replied when asked about his chances of playing for the Three Lions.

“I don’t know Sam Allardyce personally and I haven’t had any conversations with anyone linked with England.

“But I would like to think I was (in with a chance). There are not the likes of Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Sol Campbell and Ledley King of old around at the moment.

“I think the door will be open, but time is ticking. To be honest, I am not sure what direction England are looking in.

“Maybe they are looking to bring the younger Englishmen through so they can be ready for the tournament. Or are they going to pick whoever is good enough, whether you are young or old?

“I will remain hopeful, but it is just about doing as well as I can for Hull. It is a situation out of my control. I can only control what I do on the pitch and hope someone notices.”

Pressed on whether being 32 next March is likely to count against him in the international arena, Davies added: “You could say that, but then Phil Jagielka was in the squad and he is three years old than me. It does give you a bit of hope, of course.

“He has been capped plenty of times, though, so it is a little bit easier to put him in the squad than an uncapped 31-year-old, I guess.”

Another strong display today against a Liverpool side that has already put four goals past Arsenal and reigning champions Leicester City would surely only advance those claims. Davies, though, appreciates the size of the task facing the Tigers at Anfield.

“Liverpool look very potent in attack,” he said. “People have spoken about their defensive frailty, but you need to have the ball in their final third to create any problems.

“We have got to stay in the game as long we can and take our chance like Burnley did (when beating the Reds 2-0 at Turf Moor last month).

“As Hull City, we tend to defend a little bit deeper in these sorts of games. They have players like Origi, Lallana, Mane, Sturridge, Coutinho, Firmino, all crossing over and going into different spaces. You need to be very alert.”