MIKE PHELAN admits Hull City’s planning for the January transfer window has stepped up a gear after two scouting missions on potential targets in the past week.
The Tigers’ manager flew out to Germany on Tuesday and then Ireland two days later as part of his attempts to ensure the club are ready to hit the ground running when the market opens.
Dundalk winger Daryl Horgan, a free agent in January who is attracting interest from a host of Premier League clubs, was the reason for the trip to Ireland, while it is understood that Legia Warsaw striker Nemanja Nikolic – a target for Hull last summer – was the subject of Phelan’s interest when attending a Champions League group fixture at Borussia Dortmund that saw the Polish side crash to a record-breaking 8-4 defeat.
“There are a lot of things that go on in the build-up to windows,” said Phelan when asked about the club’s plans for January. “That includes a lot of hearsay and speculation, which is only natural.
“But we have made no secret of the fact we need players in to back up what we have already got.
“At the moment, we are short in numbers and we do need to give these players an opportunity in the second part of the season to have a chance.
“We are trying to do that, but we are competing against everyone else. A lot of clubs in the Premier League, from 10th place down, are competing for the same players. How you attract them is the difficult part.”
Pressed on his travelling over the past week and if he had been to watch Horgan play for Dundalk in the Europa League against AZ Alkmaar, Phelan added: “I went (to Ireland) and another place this week. I have been on my travels.
“I went to the (Dundalk) game. It was an interesting one. I was there to see a couple of players on show and now I will discuss it with my staff.
“He (Horgan) was brought to our attention along with a lot of other football clubs who have gone out there to watch him. He is a young man that has come on the scene a little bit later than everyone expected. But he has played in Europe and it was important that I went to have a look after my scouts had brought him to our attention.
“I will make my decision over what we want to do. He is an intelligent football player. He probably didn’t show as much as he can on Thursday night.”
The pick of the weekend’s Football League programme from a Yorkshire perspective is the derby between Rotherham United and Leeds United.
Leeds have lost on both their previous visits to the New York Stadium, but will make the short trip south as overwhelming favourites to triumph against a host side rooted to the bottom of the Championship.
The clash will be the first time Kenny Jackett has faced Garry Monk, who he signed for Swansea City in 2004, as a manager and the Millers chief is determined the derby can be a catalyst for a much-needed upturn in fortunes.
“It is a terrific game,” said the Rotherham chief. “It is a local derby and we have to use the enthusiasm and energy that will be in the stands. We have to make it a high-tempo game.
“The players are definitely looking forward to it and determined to put on a good performance that can lead to us turning the tide in terms of results.”
Monk was part of the Swansea side that Jackett led to promotion from League Two in 2005 and then to a heart-breaking play-off final defeat to Barnsley on penalties 12 months later. The Leeds head coach told The Yorkshire Post this week that Jackett is the perfect fit for Rotherham and the 54-year-old has been equally impressed by how his former player has adapted to life in the dugout.
“Garry has always been a very articulate guy who loves football,” added Jackett. “Whether you are a player, coach or manager, you need to love football. Generally, people ask you what the common denominator is with managers and it is the need to love football.
“He has done very well in his managerial career so far, both at Swansea and Leeds. The signs are he has built a good team at Leeds in a short space of time. Their league position and results shows a strong squad.”
One of Jackett’s former players could have a key role today. Chris Wood spent four months at Millwall in 2012 and his impressive form earned a big money switch to Leicester City from West Bromwich Albion in the following transfer window.
“We know Chris is a good striker,” said Jackett. “But every side you play will have recognised players that are good.”