HULL CITY’S prolific Jarrod Bowen has accepted manager Grant McCann’s challenge of trying to score 20 goals before Christmas – but conceded he was “disappointed” not to get a summer move to the Premier League.
The in-form 22-year-old is one of the Championship’s hottest properties and is thriving having recently switched from the wing to a more central role.
Bowen has claimed five goals in his last four games alone and has already scored 10 times this season heading into tomorrow’s enticing home game with leaders West Bromwich Albion.
The Tigers are aiming for a fourth consecutive win after he netted the winner against Nottingham Forest, slotted both in the 2-0 victory over Derby and also found the target in Saturday’s 3-0 success at Fulham.
It is no surprise the East Yorkshire club are keen to tie him down to a new contract and the player confirmed talks are ongoing after he received their offer.
Indeed, following the Derby victory, McCann – nominated for Championship manager of the month – labelled Bowen the best player in the competition.
Bowen said: “That means a lot. The gaffer is great. He’s shown great confidence and faith in me.
“From when he came in (in the summer) he made me feel welcome – and he was the new one coming in.
“I’ve played every minute in the league and we’re working on the training ground with a lot of finishing drills, especially on my right foot.
“Now he wants me to go get 15, 20 goals by Christmas which is a big ask. But he shows that confidence in me that he knows I can do it, so I have to try and do the best I can.
“I’m going into games confident, getting chances each game and the big thing now is being more clinical as chances are like gold dust sometimes; you may get one and you need to score it.
“It’s been a good start and now as a team we’re picking up as well; it’s all gelling together and we’re on a good run.”
Having scored 22 goals last term and 15 in 2017-18, former Hereford player Bowen knows he is now a marked man but he is relishing the extra attention.
“Over the last two years people know my game a bit more,” he said.
“Sometimes – and we do it as well – you try and target players and you know what they’re good at but sometimes it’s hard to stop it in the full swing of the pace of the game.
“People know I’m left-footed and play on the right so they try to show me the outside.
“But the work I’ve been doing now I’ve been scoring with my right foot as well so it puts that doubt in defenders’ minds about which way to send me as I’m comfortable going both.
“Work on the training ground has been good for me this year as I’ve learned from the last two years and now I think it’s starting to come into motion a bit.”
Many people expect Hull’s resolve to be tested in the January transfer market and McCann was surprised no Premier League side came in for the Tigers’ star asset in the summer.
Was there disappointment on Bowen’s part in that respect?
“When you come off the back of two seasons scoring 37 goals you kind of expect a bit more of talk and I think that’s just natural because of what I’ve done on the pitch for two seasons.
“I think when something didn’t happen, it had obviously played on my mind a bit until the window was shut.
“There is that uncertainty. The window opens and it’s a six or eight week window so – you know how football is and how things happen so quickly – you never know if you are coming or staying.
“But the manager spoke to me last summer and I said ‘no, I’m good.’ There was obviously talk but no official bids. I have people off the pitch who deal with that and I just try and turn that negative into a positive.
“That was my aim; I look around and see the young gaffer who is doing unbelievably here, and this squad and the players we’ve brought in, and kind of turn my disappointment of not moving into a positive on the pitch.
“I’m trying to do that and help the team carry on the way we are,” he said.
Asked if he was happy at Hull, he replied: “Yes, of course. This is my third year of playing consecutively in the Championship which is very good and I’ve played over 100 games now for Hull so I’m enjoying my football.
“I’ve played a lot of games and especially the way we are at the minute. We’re doing well.
“So we have to continue that and if we can win this week to put us in that promotion place which is what we want – to achieve those dreams of getting into the Premier League – then everyone will be happy.
“There’s definitely been a (Hull) offer to my agents. It’s just in negotiations now.”
Meanwhile, Hull are without influential playmaker Jon Toral for tomorrow’s game after he suffered a knee injury.
McCann said: “It is disappointing for us. He’s been in good form and it’s frustrating for him.
“But he’s had a scan and we’re just going to take it from there. We won’t know the extent until after the weekend.”
Jackson Irvine and George Honeyman are potential replacements in the No 10 role or McCann, still without the injured Norbert Balogh, could revert to a 4-3-3 formation.