MANAGER Mike Phelan last night hailed Hull City talisman Robert Snodgrass for inspiring a remarkable comeback that has breathed fresh life into the Yorkshire club’s season.
The Scot came off the bench to score the Tigers’ equaliser and then create the winner in yesterday’s 2-1 triumph over Southampton at the KCOM Stadium.
Considering Snodgrass, Hull’s top scorer with four goals, had been expected to be out until later this month after injuring his ankle in the October 22 defeat to Stoke City, his man of the match display was made all the more impressive.
“Most clubs have a player or two or three who can produce something that is a little bit different,” said Phelan, whose side ended a six-game losing run by beating a Saints side that just three days earlier had defeated Inter Milan.
“He is one of them. At the start of the game, ‘Snoddy’ wasn’t ready. It was a big risk and we looked at maybe 30 minutes for him (from the bench), but injuries dictated he had to go on earlier. He managed to find everything that is required of a good player and showed his quality.
“Mentally, ‘Snoddy’ was prepared to be on the bench and do his bit when needed. It was longer than we anticipated. He produced. Quality players at this level have to produce and he did.”
Snodgrass, by inspiring Hull to an unexpected victory, proved his fitness ahead of this Friday’s England-Scotland World Cup qualifier at Wembley.
That will come as a welcome boost to such a proud Scot. The news for two of Hull’s other players, however, is not so good.
Both Abel Hernandez and Will Keane could be facing lengthy lay-offs after being forced out of yesterday’s clash by injury.
Hernandez lasted just 10 minutes before suffering a groin injury that means he will not now join up with Uruguay ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Ecuador.
Keane followed suit with a knee injury that, like Hernandez’s groin problem, will be assessed today. Phelan, however, warned that the early signs are not good.
“The two lads will be looked at,” said the Lancastrian, who is already without Moses Odubajo, Andrew Robertson and Alex Bruce due to injury and Adama Diomande through suspension.
“Medically, the signs are not very good, but we need to have a report. Keane looks the worst of the two, but both of them will be out for a period of time.
“They are crazy injuries. There is no reason why they happen. It is just probably being in the wrong place, wrong time.
“It is a case of let’s wait and see, but it doesn’t look good for either of them for a period of time.”
Hernandez, last season’s top scorer, has endured a difficult return to the Premier League and he was recently dropped to the bench. Keane, meanwhile, has suffered wretched luck with injuries during a career that saw the striker once confined to the sidelines for 16 months at Manchester United.
“Will is someone I have known for a number of years,” said Phelan, Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand man at Old Trafford.
“He has always shown real endeavour and potential.
“Now he has got himself to a point where he is firing and got himself ready, but he has suffered a blow again.”
Hull will head to Sunderland on the resumption of the Premier League on November 19 for a potentially pivotal clash.
They will do so without a recognised senior full-back or Diomande, who will serve the third and final game of his ban. If Hernandez and Keane are, as seems likely, both missing then Dieumerci Mbokani will be the club’s only fit striker.
“We are short in a few departments, to be fair,” said Phelan, who switched to 4-1-4-1 in the wake of yesterday’s double injury blow, “but particularly full-backs and centre-forwards.
“We have to find a way through it. We have to look at it, assess it. We have a couple of young players who are more than capable of stepping in and we may have to use them.
“I said at full-time that everyone is valuable. It doesn’t matter if you’re a substitute or a squad player.
“This season is a long, hard one. There is disappointment when you are left out, but they have a contribution to make in what is a long season.”
Match report: Page 3.