Hull boss Mike Phelan welcomes return of 'leader' Michael Dawson for Stoke visit
Hull captain Michael Dawson will be involved for the first time this season against Stoke on Saturday and his timely return to Premier League action cannot come soon enough for boss Mike Phelan.
Centre-half Dawson, 32, has been sidelined since damaging medial knee ligaments in the summer and his comeback has coincided with news left-back Andy Robertson has been ruled out for eight weeks with a calf injury.
Phelan, yet to appoint a new assistant following Stephen Clemence's departure to team up with Steve Bruce at Aston Villa, tapped into Dawson's wealth of experience by having his skipper alongside him in a coaching capacity for last week's 6-1 thumping at Bournemouth.
"Michael is available now," Phelan said. "He experienced sitting on the bench last week. He doesn't want to experience that again but yes, he's available for selection.
"You want leaders in your team, you want experience and Michael certainly carries a lot of that.
"He's trained all week. He's ready, he's available and I'm sure he will feature in the game."
Dawson's return is warmly welcomed by Phelan, whose side's encouraging start back in the top flight has been erased by five defeats and a draw in their last six league matches.
Hull have shipped 17 goals in their last four and Phelan was dealt another blow this week the news defender Moses Odubajo, working his way back from reconstructive knee surgery, will be out for another six months after fracturing his patella in a non-contact incident during training.
But Phelan insists he nor his players have been feeling sorry for themselves.
"I don't see why we should be fragile," he said. "We learn hard lessons and we've certainly learned a few over the last few weeks.
"But character has to come into it. We're in the big league and the big league demands that your big players turn up, perform and if we do that, more times than not we'll win football matches."
Phelan's appointment as permanent boss was only confirmed last week and he has been working against a backdrop of off-field uncertainty with the race to buy the club intensifying over the last few days.
Far East consortium Greater China Professional Services Limited, headed by Chinese businessman Dr Ip Kwok Kwong, has agreed a conditional £130million takeover of the club, according to a document filed to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Former Tigers chairman Adam Pearson has been reported to have introduced GCPS Ltd to current owners the Allam family, while a separate deal with a Chinese consortium headed by brother and sister partnership Dai Yongge and Dai Xin Li broke down at a late stage last month.
Another consortium, led by American-Chinese businessman Chien Lee, is still pursuing a takeover deal and it is also understood a fourth group, with links to Germany, is in advanced talks to take control.
"I've been told nothing and I haven't even asked the question about the takeover," Phelan said when asked about the protracted ownership issue.
"I'm just letting that side of things take care of themselves. If we start being distracted by all the rumour and talk then it doesn't help our cause on the football field.
"For me it's just about the football and letting the present owners deal with whoever the new owners may be."