Loanee Whyte was only three starts and a substitute appearance into his Tigers career when an injury left him on the sidelines for a month, the same period of inactivity he had between his last game for Cardiff City and his first for the League One promotion-chasers.
Both goals in Saturday’s win at home to Bristol Rovers have set the Northern Ireland international up nicely for tonight’s game at Peterborough United.
Saturday’s victory moved Hull above Posh – who surprisingly lost 2-1 at Burton Albion – on goal difference and back to the top of the table. Judging the true state of play is difficult, though, with the rest of the top eight having at least two games in hand, and fifth-placed Doncaster Rovers, seven points back, four.
Whyte’s opportunity came about partly through the need to freshen the squad during a punishing run of games in this condensed season, but he took it well.
“Gavin’s missed three or four weeks with an injury and any player will tell you that it can take time to get back up to where you want to be,” reflected McCann. “He was part of the Cardiff team that got into the top six in the Championship last season and he’s a top player – an international player.
“It was more about giving Keane Lewis-Potter a breather. Keane’s performances have been good. He was outstanding at Wimbledon the previous weekend, but we just wanted to give him a bit of a breather.
“Gavin has been training really well. His performance in midweek against Rochdale, there was nothing wrong with it although it was about us getting him into better positions to affect the game more. His two goals on Saturday showed that.
“The first one came from really good play by Mallik Wilks, and there was some excellent play from George Honeyman to set up the second one.
“There’s more in him. He’s more used to playing off the right and he’s maybe more direct in terms of taking people on from there, but we know that he can play off the left where he can find little pockets of space. He’s clever on the ball and he wants to come in to link up with (Josh) Magennis and Wilks. It’s a nice string to his bow that he can play in a few positions.”
Former Peterborough manager McCann admits he is concerned about the state of the London Road surface, which Posh have won 12 and drawn two of their 14 League One games on this season.
“It’s going to be a difficult game because of the condition of the pitch, they’ve had a problem with the pitch there because of a water leak,” he said.
“They’re used to that pitch, they’ve been playing on it most of the season so it’s going to be a challenge for us.
“It’s going to be a tough game. Peterborough have been really good this season hence why they’ve been in and around the top of the league for most of it.”
Whyte’s goals mean McCann must now decide whether to recall the in-form Lewis-Potter, who played the final 16 minutes at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday having started all of the previous 13 matches in all competitions since ending his contract stand-off with the club. If so, the decision turns to who should make way with Magennis and 19-goal Wilks, also in good touch lately.
Defender Sean McLoughlin missed the weekend victory, Hull’s third in a row after a wobble of one win in seven in all competitions, with a calf strain that is likely to keep him out for the next couple of weeks. McLoughlin signed a new three-year contract last week.
Meanwhile, Hull have reached agreement for their under-23s to play four March games at York City’s new community stadium, starting with last night’s match against Barnsley.
York fans were angry to read on Hull’s social media channels that the juniors were to play Wigan Athletic at Bootham Crescent last month, and what was due to be a longer-term arrangement was quickly changed.
The Minstermen played their final game at their home since 1932 behind closed doors in December.
The Conference North season was abandoned shortly after York’s first game in their new home, though they are one of a number of Conference North and South clubs who have written to the National League asking for permission to play a mini-league together, with promotion to the Conference on offer.
Ipswich Town (March 22), Nottingham Forest (March 25) and Crewe Alexandra (March 29) are all due to play Hull at the new North Yorkshire ground, which York share with rugby league side York City Knights.
Last six games: Peterborough United LDWWWW; Hull City WWWLDW
Referee: J Busby (Oxfordshire)
Last time: Peterborough United 1 Hull City 1, January 19, 2013, Championship.
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