Hull City chief defends trip to China

PAUL DUFFEN insists Hull City's trip to China will not deflect from their attempts to strengthen ahead of the new Premier League season.

The Tigers have endured a frustrating summer in the transfer market with Fulham's Bobby Zamora having at the weekend become the latest high-profile target to reject a move to the KC Stadium.

Following on from Hull being turned down by Fraizer Campbell and Marc-Antoine Fortune after fees were agreed with Manchester United and Nancy, respectively, plus the failure to agree terms with Sunderland's Daryl Murphy over a 1.5m switch, it has left fans concerned with the new campaign being just 18 days away.

With Hull having yesterday flown out to Beijing ahead of the Asia Trophy kicking off tomorrow, questions have been asked in the East Riding as to whether manager Phil Brown should have stayed at home this week to concentrate on bolstering his strike department.

Chairman Duffen has, however, rubbished any suggestions that being in China for the next five days will have a detrimental effect on the club's recruitment drive.

He told the Yorkshire Post: "The world is a lot smaller place than it was thanks to technology and we are just as capable of talking to a player from China as we are from Hull.

"Being in Beijing will not make any difference as Phil will be able to speak to a player as and when we are granted permission to do so."

West Ham and Tottenham are the other two English clubs competing in the Asia Trophy along with local side Beijing Guoan, whom Brown's men face tomorrow in a game that will be broadcast live by Sky, and speculation suggests that transfer talks may even take place in the Chinese capital with Hull having been linked with moves for Dean Ashton and Pascal Chimbonda.

Hull are certainly in the market for a new right-back following Sam Ricketts's 2m switch to Bolton Wanderers last weekend, while their lack of firepower is well documented.

Cardiff City forward Ross McCormack is believed to be on Brown's radar with the Tigers manager having travelled to south Wales last week to watch him in action.

Duffen declined to comment on the identity of any potential targets but has stressed to supporters that every effort is being made to strengthen the squad.

He said: "It has been frustrating at times because the ideal scenario is to have the new players embedded in the squad by the time of the first game.

"That may still happen, of course, but it has to be said that outside of a few very big signings, there are a lot of clubs with work still to do.

"We still have many targets that are not out in the media so, hopefully, we can get those deals done in the near future."

Hull's need to strengthen their strike force has become even more acute with Craig Fagan having been ruled out of the trip to China with a groin problem.

The 26-year-old will undergo surgery today to make him a major doubt for the season's opener at Chelsea on August 15 as it usually takes two weeks to recover.

Around 200 fans have followed Hull to the Far East and Duffen believes the value of the trip will prove hugely beneficial to the club's commercial hopes.

The Hull chairman said: "It was a great honour for Hull City to be invited to such a prestigious tournament alongside Spurs and West Ham, and testament to the wonderful start we had to last season. It speaks volumes for the standing Hull City now enjoys.

"It shows how far we have come in a very short space of time, while there are also considerable potential commercial benefits for the club.

"A lot of work has gone into boosting our profile in the area with our staff having been busy for the past two or three months building relationships.

"The Premier League is a global brand and Hull City is very much a part of that. The Premier League is watched live on television in all four corners of the globe and with youngsters playing hand-held computer games based on the competition, it brings Hull City to them.

"For us to be able to try and build on that familiarity and benefit the club commercially is a huge plus."