PREVIEW: Luton Town v Hull City

Hull City's managerial merry-go-round was in full swing once more this summer, with Doncaster Rovers chief Grant McCann the latest to take over the hot-seat.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 1:37 pm
Town are back at Kenilworth Road this weekend
Town are back at Kenilworth Road this weekend

The 39-year-old became the fifth manager at the KCOM Stadium in the last three years, as the Tigers continue to search for some much-needed stability at the top.

They had it at one stage, with Steve Bruce in charge for four years, but since he left the club in July 2016, four different managers have come and gone, Mike Phelan, Marco Silva, Leonid Slutsky and Nigel Adkins.

At 18 month, Adkins had easily the longest spell in charge of Hull, and his first whole season saw the club finish in 13th last term.

However, despite reportedly agreeing a salary and budget for the new campaign, he then rejected the offer of a new deal due to 'other contractual terms'.

That meant City went searching for McCann, as on his appointment, vice-chairman Ehab Allam said: “Grant has been a standout candidate with a playing style and philosophy aligned to that of the club."

The new chief has found it difficult to start with though, picking up just one win from his opening seven games as Hull search for a return to the top flight they exited in the 2016-17 season.

McCann's only victory came on the second weekend of the season, when Reading were beaten 2-1.

Since then, the Tigers have taken just three points from 15, with draws against Brentford, Millwall and Wigan, defeated by Blackburn and Bristol City.

Hull's away record hasn't been too bad though, losing at Swansea on the opening day their only real blemish, as they won at Tranmere in the Carabao Cup, and drew 2-2 with Preston in the next round, only to lose out on penalties.

Goals have been tough to come by, City scoring just eight in seven league encounters so far, yet to keep a clean sheet as well.

During the summer, McCann was able to bring his own players in as he looked to mould the squad, with striker Tom Eaves from Gillingham a seemingly fine addition, although he is yet to get off the mark for his new club.

Ryan Tafazolli from Peterborough, plus Sunderland's George Honeyman were among the other new recruits, Frazier Campnbell, David Marshall and Will Keane all moving to pastures new.

Earlier this month, Hull also brought in Hungary international striker Norbert Balogh on a one-year deal, after he was released by Italian club Palermo.

McCann still has plenty of players at his disposal that have cost big fees too, the likes of Kevin Stewart (£8m from Liverpool), Jon-Miquel Toral (£3m Arsenal) and Reece Burke (£1.5m from West Ham), with Polish international Kamil Grosicki among the goals and Jarrod Bowen one of the most feared players at this level.

However, off the pitch, there was some awful news for defender Angus MacDonald recently after he was diagnosed with the early stages of bowel cancer.

The 26-year-old had only recently returned to full training following almost a year on the sidelines recovering from a deep vein thrombosis, and tweeted: "I'm absolutely overwhelmed by the support that has come my way.

“Literally thousands of messages which I'm taking time reading through and it really has given me a huge boost."

Team news: Martin Cranie is making progress for Luton after returning to training, but is still not expected to feature.

Brendan Galloway is also a doubt after coming off against Brentford B in midweek, while Danny Hylton (knee) and Glen Rea (knee) are both out.

For Hull, Reece Burke, Daniel Batty and Stephen Kingsley are all available again after injury, although Jon Toral (hamstring) is out, as is another un-named player from Saturday's 2-2 draw with Wigan.

Josh Magennis is also available after suspension.

Top scorers: Hatters: James Collins (4). Tigers: Jarrod Bowen (5).

Milestones: James Collins will make it 50 goals for the Hatters if he finds the net in what would be his 101st game, reaching his century milestone during the 3-2 defeat at QPR last weekend.

Man in the middle: Andrew Madley - refereed two games so far this season, Wigan's 2-0 defeat to Leeds and the Premier League clash between Sheffield United and Leicester City, still managing seven yellow cards and one red.

The West Yorkshire official had 40 games last term, including the League One play-off final between Charlton and Sunderland, plus the FA Trophy final where Fylde defeated Leyton Orient, dishing out 115 yellows and four reds in total.

Saturday is his first Luton game since the 0-0 League Two draw with Cambridge in January 2016, Nathan Jones' first game in charge.

he also had the 1-0 home defeat to Burton the season before as well.

In charge: Grant McCann – 39-year-old, who began his playing career with West Ham, before spells at Livingston and Notts County, becoming Cheltenham Town's then record signing for £50,000 in January 2003.

Barnsley shelled out £100,000 for his services in January 2007, as he joined Scunthorpe and then Peterborough in May 2010, playing almost 200 games, finishing his career with Linfield.

Headed back to Posh in a coaching capacity in February 2015, while was appointed first team manager in May 2016, and then sacked in February 2018.

The former Northern Ireland international was then named Doncaster boss in June 2018, leading Rovers to the play-offs where they were defeated by Charlton.

Accepted the offer to take over at Hull in June, bringing assistant Cliff Byrne with him, signing a one year rolling contract.

View from the opposition: Boss Grant McCann: “Kenilworth Road is always a difficult place to go.

“It’s a tight pitch and the fans are on top of you. We know what they’re about. I think they’ve had a mixed bag of results so far but they have enjoyed a couple of good wins.

“It’s going to be a tough game – it really is – but we’ve just got to make sure we get the game-plan right.

"We’ll go there and try to be brave and play on the front foot.

"We’ll try to take the game to them because that’s the way we like to approach every game.”

One to watch: Jarrod Bowen – Attacking 22-year-old winger started out with Hereford, snapped up by Hull in July 2014.

His career took off in the 2017-18 campaign, scoring 15 goals in 44 games for the Tigers, following that up with a hugely impressive 22 in 46 last term.

Has shown no signs of stopping this year either, already up to five goals, making it it 42 in 107 appearances.

Friendly faces: Sonny Bradley - came through the ranks at Hull, as he went on loan to Aldershot and then played twice at the end of the 2011-12 season.

His debut came as a second half substitute in the 2-0 home defeat to Coventry in March 2012 and then had the whole game as Millwall triumphed 2-0, Harry Kane getting the first.

Went back on loan to the Shots for the 2012-13 campaign and then joined Portsmouth on a free in May 2013.

Town's assistant boss Gary Brabin left Blackpool to join Hull in January 1999.

He played over 100 times, before leaving Boothferry Park in August 2001, signing for Boston United, although swiftly moved to Torquay and then Chester City.

Goallkeeper coach Kevin Dearden also had a brief stint at Hull, joining on loan from Spurs in January 1991, playing three times.

Played for both: Curtis Davis – came through the ranks with Hatters, as he starred during his time with Luton, playing 62 times and scoring twice.

That form saw West Bromwich Albion part with a then club record fee received by the Hatters of £3m in August 2005, only broken this season by James Justin's move to Leicester City.

While at the Hawthorns, Davies signed on loan for Aston Villa in August 2007, eventually making the move permanent for £8m the following season.

Had a loan with Leicester Ciy, before heading to Birmingham in January 2011 and then Hull City for £2.25m in June 2013.

Played almost 150 times for the Tigers, including the 2014 FA Cup Final, scoring one of his seven goals to make it 2-0 on eight minutes, only for the Gunners to hit back and win 3-2 in extra time.

Moved to Derby County in June 2017 and has made over 50 appearances fir the Rams, although only featured in two Carabao Cup games this term.

We've got form: Visitors Hull have had by far the better of recent matches at Kenilworth Road, winning on four of their last five trips.

Town's last success was in February 2005, when an Ahmet Brkovic goal settled the League One encounter.

Prior to that, Luton have struggled against their opponents on home soil since games began with a 3-0 defeat in Division Two in November 1949.

It took them four games to register a victory, earning a 3-2 win in 1953.

In total, Town have won just seven to Hull's nine, with four draws, scoring 28 and conceding 30 goals.

Last time out: Luton were beaten 2-1 by Hull in their last meeting at Kenilworth Road, that a Championship clash in March 2007.

The visitors led through former David Livermore's goal on 22 minutes, the midfielder going on to play for Town later in his career, while Michael Turner (62) made it 2-0 with a stunning volley.

Drew Talbot pulled one back with 20 to go, heading home from a free kick but the visitors held on.

Hatters: Marlon Beresford (Dean Brill 33), Kevin Foley, Leon Barnett, Sol Davis, Clarke Carlisle, Drew Talbot, Lewis Emanuel (Dean Morgan 56), Markus Heikkinen, Keith Keane, Richard Langley (Warren Feeney 46), David Bell.

Subs not used: Chris Coyne, Bjorn Runstrom.

Referee: R OIivier.

Attendance: 7,777.