Hull debutants should impress on European bow
Hull City are odds-on at 4/6 to win their first-ever game in Europe against Slovakian side Trencin. Steve Bruce’s Tigers enter the Europa League in the third qualifying round and are four matches away from the competition proper.
The adventure starts, fittingly, on the continent, and Hull wide players Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince will be targeting goals on what is likely to be their competitive debuts. It’s 7/4 that former Leeds United and Norwich City winger Snodgrass nets on his bow, while Ince junior is 6/4.
Bruce often preferred a back three last term, including in the FA Cup final extra time loss to Arsenal, but the signing of two genuine flankers suggests a tactical change may be on the cards. Robbie Brady and George Boyd give the Tigers boss real options in wide berths, while Ahmed Elmohamady always pushes on from right back.
January acquisitions Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long are eligible in all competitions now, making that cup run, which earned Hull a European place, all the more remarkable when they were ineligible. They should be paired in attack, meaning a midfielder will be sacrificed.
Tom Huddlestone’s deep-lying playmaking abilities make him a vital asset to the Tigers, and his all-round game in the engine room will have a platform in the Europa League. He’s 9/2 to produce something from midfield, perhaps a patented piledriver from long range.
Jake Livermore, a permanent acquisition from Spurs this summer, or David Meyler, who Bruce brought to Hull from former club Sunderland, will likely make way in this new setup. Switching to a 4-4-2 formation may be a blessing in disguise, because there is little central midfield cover at the KC Stadium presently.
Maynor Figueroa’s ageing legs may get some relief at left back, with highly-rated Scotland international Andy Robertson recruited. He and centre half Harry Maguire will have to wait for debuts, however, as both young recruits are ineligible.