Herbie Kane’s energy, aggression, quality on the ball and versatility persuaded Grant McCann not to give up on a second spell working with the Liverpool midfielder.
The 21-year-old has joined Hull City on loan until the end of the season, and goes straight into the squad for today’s FA Cup third-round trip to Rotherham United.
McCann worked with Kane at Doncaster Rovers last term, and tried to bring him to East Yorkshire in the summer. It is clear the pair think highly of one another, which is why the Tigers coach did not take no for an answer.
Hull have made a good start to the transfer window, and hope to follow Kane’s signing with that of Barnsley forward Mallik Wilks. Just as importantly, they are determined to keep their best players, rejecting an offer for Leonardo da Silva Lopes, and reiterating their desire to keep the in-demand Jarrod Bowen.
“It’s a good signing for us,” McCann said of Kane. “He’s obviously someone I know well. I took him to Doncaster last year when he wasn’t really known to be honest but he had a tremendous season.
“He’ll bring energy, aggression, he’s very comfortable on the ball. He’s got a bit of everything and that’s what we like. The fact he can play in one or two positions as well gives us that flexibility.”
It’s nice that he has the trust in me to bring me here.Herbie Kane
Kane made 49 appearances in all competitions as Rovers reached last season’s League One play-offs, scoring nine goals.
“In the first game he didn’t start in the team,” recalled McCann. “I think we picked an injury up and then he started in the next game and went from strength to strength.
“He was in the League One Team of the Year, he was outstanding last season at that level.
“He’s more than ready to take the step to the next level. We’re pleased to have him.
“Now, for Herbie, it’s to challenge himself in the Championship and to see how he can compete at this level. In my opinion he’ll be fine. He just needs to bring his game out and hopefully others can impact around that.”
Had the Northern Irishman had his way, the move would have happened even sooner.
“We couldn’t do it in the summer,” said McCann. “We tried to see what was about but a few things stopped that.
“It’s nice to get him now, especially with the injuries to Kevin Stewart and Jon Toral. We needed a bit more competition in there and Herbie will definitely bring that.”
Stewart is not expected back from a knee operation for another month, and fellow midfielder Toral is thought to be two months away from returning from a broken foot.
McCann is now happy with his midfield options, but on the lookout for more firepower up front.
“The five for the three (midfield positions) is good,” he said. “It definitely adds more competition.
“The boys have done well, the people who have played in that position. They’ve done great and are getting better and better. Just to add that competition to give us more options is vital for us at this stage of the season.
“We are trying to bring someone in who can play across the front, not just in one set position.
“The versatility of people is key for me.
“It’s not about nailing people down in one position, they have to play in several because that’s how we like to approach games and change games if we need to.
“You never know (how many signings McCann will go for). We don’t want to be rocking the boat. Ideally we want to add one more to the forward line if we can. We’re working hard on that.
“We’ll see what happens after that.
“We’re not in a position where it’ll be six or seven players coming in.
“It’s about adding those bits of quality to the group.”
Since going back to Liverpool, Kane has made his Reds debut. He was a substitute in September’s League Cup win over Milton Keynes Dons, and played in last month’s 5-0 defeat at Aston Villa, where Liverpool were forced to field a reserve team because the senior side was at the Club World Cup in Qatar.
“I’ve been excited ever since I heard the news that the club wanted to bring me in on loan,” said Kane.
“It was nice to come in this morning and meet the lads and it’s great to be linking up with the gaffer again. It’s nice that he has the trust in me to bring me here.
“Hopefully I can play some games and help the team get to where it wants to be come the end of the season.”
There could be outgoings, but only on Hull’s terms. McCann said on Wednesday it would take “a hell of a lot of money” to make him reluctantly lose winger Bowen, the 17-goal top-scorer crucial to Hull’s promotion hopes.
They are looking to move on David Milinkovic and Markus Henriksen, and have confirmed Max Sheaf and Jacob Greaves will remain at Cheltenham Town for the rest of the season.
A “seven-figure” bid from major League Soccer Side New York Red Bulls has been rejected after an impressive debut season by the 21-year-old midfielder. Everton and Norwich City have also been linked.
Defender Sean McLoughlin has returned early from a loan at St Mirren, and with left-backs Callum Elder and Stephen Kingsley both injuring their hamstrings over Christmas, he could be more involved than even McCann expected.
“The thinking behind it initially was that Sean’s played 46 games already this season, 25 for Cork and 21 for St Mirren, he hasn’t had a break,” explained McCann.
“The initial thinking was to bring Sean back, give him a break, get him to know the players and get him ready for next season. But as it happens, we’ve got two left-backs injured so timing-wise it’s put our backs against the wall a little bit, so Sean will be around us now until we get one or two back fit.
“He’s over the moon with that.”
With ten injuries on New Year’s Day – not enough to stop them winning 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday – McCann’s options to rotate his squad today are limited, but he is keen to play a strong side. “There’ll be some changes but the team that goes out will be competitive,” he promised. We want to get into the fourth round.”