HEADING into the penultimate weekend of the season, it constitutes a big ‘if’ as to whether Hull City can rescue their top-flight status.
But when talk turns to Harry Maguire’s own Premier League future, things are rather more unequivocal.
Consummate professional that he is and fully focused on the Tigers’ living to fight another day at Crystal Palace tomorrow, there is a certain amount of clarity as to where the defender will be playing his football next season.
That level will surely be the Premier League. Although it remains to be seen if that is with Hull or at another destination.
Whatever transpires at the end of the club’s roller-coaster Premier League journey of 2016-17, Maguire is sure to never forget a spectacular breakthrough season at top-flight level.
The talent which the Sheffielder displayed during his formative years at boyhood club Sheffield United – and which drew scouts to Bramall Lane – has now fully blossomed in East Yorkshire.
I set myself a target to play week in, week out in the Premier League. I played it with Mick (Phelan) when we played three at the back and Marco (Silva) has come in and shown great faith in me and to win the couple of awards is a great end to the season.Harry Maguire
Maguire’s classy contributions in which he has displayed elegance on the ball and defensive grit in equal measure has drawn admiring glances from several leading clubs, if the rumour mill is to be believed.
Talk of being on the radar of England head coach Gareth Southgate has also surfaced more than once too.
Closer to home, Maguire’s outstanding campaign saw him honoured at the club’s awards ceremony earlier this week, with the 24-year-old picking up the fans’ player-of-the-year and players’ player-of-the-year accolades.
On a personal perspective, it has all gone rather well, although the centre-half is desperate for a final flourish to help seal the club’s safety – before turning his attentions to the future.
Not bad to say that he was far from a regular at the start of the season, even accounting for Hull’s crippling selection issues, with his top-flight journey being one of the most incredible of any player this year.
Maguire said: “It has been a remarkable turnaround for myself. Last year, I was in and out of the team in the Championship and come the start of the season, I found myself injured and was not playing in the first few games.
“To be honest, there were times when I thought I would maybe have to go out and get first-team football as that is the main aim in my career. I want to play week in, week out.
“I set myself a target to play week in, week out in the Premier League. I played it with Mick (Phelan) when we played three at the back and Marco (Silva) has come in and shown great faith in me and to win the couple of awards is a great end to the season.
“Now on Sunday, we want to hopefully get the three points and kick on to Tottenham and the aim now is to stay in the league.
“The fans have been great with me; even when I have been in and out of the team and I wanted to re-pay them a bit. Thankfully, I took my time and have been patient and it is starting to pay off.”
Just as he has impressively coped with most Premier League opponents thrust in his direction in an accomplished campaign, so Maguire is showing similar maturity and poise in the way in which is has handling the bouquets which have arrived in abundance during the past seven months.
Recent talk has centred on his future, with the likes of Liverpool, Spurs and Newcastle reportedly watching developments with his current deal ending in June 2018.
His situation will be addressed in the summer, with Maguire putting it all on hold to do everything in his power to help the club can stave off relegation.
He said: “It is nice to see the media plaudits. It shows you are doing well and gives you confidence.
“But I take it in my stride to be honest, and try not to take too much from it and too much when it goes the wrong way.
“You have got to focus on the next game and that is the main job on the moment.
“I don’t think it is (distracting), at this stage of the season. It is massive to stay in the Premier League, especially when you have worked your socks off all last season in the Championship and go up in a play-off final and play a full season in the Premier League.”
Specifically on his longer-term future, Maguire added: “There were talks a couple of months ago and we came to an agreement, obviously with the position that the club is in, that we needed to totally focus on my football. I thought it wasn’t the right time to speak.
“I still have a year left on my contract and am contracted to Hull City. But I am sure we will speak in the summer over another contract.”