NIGEL ADKINS has urged his Hull City side to don “the war paint” and “give it a damn good go” after being written off in many quarters ahead of the new season.
The Tigers welcome Steve Bruce, the most successful manager in the club’s history, and Aston Villa to the KCOM tonight.
Most pundits have tipped City to struggle, with Adkins noting last week that the BBC had predicted his side would finish in the bottom three.
He plans to use this as a motivational tool for a squad that still needs strengthening despite six new faces having arrived this summer.
“I want supporters to know the players will work their socks off and they are passionate about what they do,” said Adkins. “If they are not good enough, they are not good enough. But it won’t be for the want of trying.
“We have got to have that spirit. We know it is going to be challenging but we will put the war paint on and give it a damn good go. Who knows where that takes us?”
Reece Burke, the former West Ham United defender, is one of those six signings hoping to make his debut tonight.
“It is like a fresh start,” said the 21-year-old, who joined Hull in a £1.5m deal after spending the last three seasons out on loan.
“We have a young team but there is experience in there as well. We have got players who can bring that bit of quality we need in the last minute of a game.
“A lot of people have gone but there are fresh faces here like myself who want to push on in our careers. As a team, we will do well.
“We have got a young squad and that might be a reason (why no-one is tipping us). But that won’t affect us, the manager had already mentioned it.
“The only focus we have is on each game, nothing more. Hopefully, we can prove people wrong. It can be a motivation.
“Pre-season has shown what the lads are like. We were 1-0 down against Newcastle but no heads dropped or anything like that (as City fought back to draw 2-2).”
Asked if he had a point to prove after failing to make the breakthrough with the Hammers despite making 15 senior appearances, the former Bradford City loanee replied: “The manager is clever, in that you look around the squad and everyone wants to do well.
“I want to prove people wrong. There are those out there who say I am not good enough to play for West Ham. If that is their opinion, that is their opinion. But I have come here to show people what I have got and, hopefully, make it back to the Premier League.”
With the clock ticking down towards Thursday’s 5pm deadline for permanent transfers in the Football League, Adkins is expecting a frantic few days once tonight’s televised encounter is out of the way.
Getting those new faces in is the overwhelming priority, though speculation continues that Kamil Grosicki, the Polish international, could be on his way out of Hull.
“He has got a long time on his contract,” said Adkins about Grosicki, who has two years left on a deal he signed in January, 2017.
“Most deals are done in the last two days of the window. I want to bring players in and not lose players but who knows? At some point, he won’t be at Hull City because he will either be sold, he will go on loan somewhere or his contract runs out.
“It is like all players, at some point, he won’t be here. When that point is, I haven’t got a crystal ball to say.”
Aston Villa chief Bruce has warned Tottenham there is no cheap solution in their pursuit of Jack Grealish.
The manager confirmed for the first time the clubs are in talks over the midfielder but Spurs are nowhere near Villa’s asking price.
Bruce was resigned to losing Grealish on the cheap before Nassef Sawiris’s and Wes Edens’s takeover last month which saved Villa from possible administration.
The club must still comply with Financial Fair Play and selling Grealish would virtually solve the issue.
Last six games: Hull City WWLDLD, Aston Villa WDLWDL.
Referee: A Madley (West Yorkshire).
Last time: Hull City 0 Aston Villa 0; March 31, 2018; Championship.