Opportunities now knock as Hull look to seal escape

THE KING is dead, long live the king is a term that can easily apply to the footballing realm just as much as royal affairs.

Hull City's Sam Clucas (Picture: PA.).

Hero worship can ultimately be transitory among supporters and while Hull City’s players will have some way to go to emulate the considerable feats of fans’ favourite Robert Snodgrass this season, the opportunity for those wishing to step out of the shadows is there all the same.

It is something acknowledged by Sam Clucas and while the loss of the artistry and enterprise of an abundant creative force in Snodgrass will be mourned by many, the Tigers midfielder believes that the show must – and will – go on.

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As the likes of Oumar Niasse provided glimpses of positivity in the Capital One Cup second-leg win over Manchester United, the chance now arises for others to showcase their talents at Craven Cottage tomorrow.

After Thursday night’s expressive team performance, Clucas believes that the stage is set perfectly.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “The team is not built around one player.

“He (Snodgrass) has been brilliant for us and is top-scorer and created the most goals and is going to be a big miss, but the signings that the gaffer has made have made an impact.

“(Lazar) Markovic came on (against Manchester United) and Evandro came in and Niasse scored and we have players who are stepping in with quality.

“Niasse is a handful and a big lad and I think that is what we have been missing sometimes. He played well and deserved his goal.

“Hopefully, they can all fill Snoddy’s boots, score some goals and create some chances like Snods did. We wish Snods all the best if he goes.”

Many of an amber and black persuasion might see tomorrow’s FA Cup trip to Fulham as an unnecessary distraction ahead of the pressing business of Premier League survival, most especially for a thin-looking squad where rest and recovery will play their part.

While conscious of where Hull’s priorities lie, Clucas also believes that more cup exploits can have positive spin-offs for their league campaign, which continues at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.

A long trip to West London on a Sunday may look a humdrum draw, but spice has at least been provided by the sight of a former Hull favourite in the Fulham ranks in Sone Aluko, who has been busy talking up the hosts’ chances.

Clucas said: “There are a few lads who played with him here and it will be nice to catch up with him. But it is about getting through and, hopefully, our team will get the better of his.

“It is all about building momentum and if we can get back-to-back wins and take that into the next league game, who knows what will happen after?

“We have done well to get this far in the Capital One Cup and now we have another cup game on Sunday and we will go down there full of confidence and hopefully we can progress and have another cup run and see where it takes us.”

Hull’s performance on Thursday night is unlikely to stop many soothsayers predicting a home win on Sunday, more especially with Wednesday’s trip to Manchester United assuming rather more importance in the greater scheme of things and head coach Marco Silva is again likely to make a number of changes.

For his part, Clucas will be happy for those supposedly in the know to tip a Fulham win, which is likely to serve as further motivation for a squad who have contended with plenty of things thrown their way this season and closed ranks successfully as a group.

And for those who will continue to write off Hull, Clucas’s message is loud and clear, fortified by events on Thursday as Hull became the first side to beat Manchester United in 18 matches.

He said: “Just driving in and listening on the radio, everyone had written us off before and were saying it was already a Manchester United and Southampton final. That gave us extra encouragement.

“We know we have been playing well in recent weeks. We did well at Chelsea, but were unfortunate and we are adding a few more bodies in now and more quality into the team and I think that showed against Man United. We played well and created chances.

“We can take loads of confidence from beating a top team with top players out there and a strong team. Hopefully, we can take it into the league form.”