Tuesday 24 April 2018

Hull boss Mike Phelan has selection headache following Eldin Jakupovic's heroics

Eldin Jakupovic could be back among the substitutes on Monday
Eldin Jakupovic could be back among the substitutes on Monday

Hull's EFL Cup hero Eldin Jakupovic could find himself back on bench duty on Monday in his side's Premier League clash at Middlesbrough.

The Swiss goalkeeper's two penalty shoot-out saves in the Tigers' quarter-final win against Newcastle on Tuesday clinched the club a first-ever appearance in the semi-finals of the competition.

Many Tigers fans feel Jakupovic should be rewarded with his first league start since mid-September in place of regular keeper David Marshall, but Phelan was not prepared to give his number two, publicly at least, any guarantees before the trip to the Riverside.

"It's no more of a dilemma than it has been," said Phelan when asked for his preference as his side chases a fourth league win of the season to lift them out of the bottom three.

"Eldin started the season then David Marshall came in - it's been swings and roundabouts for both the keepers.

"But Eldin was the goalkeeper of the moment (on Tuesday night). He performed, he did well when it came to the penalty situation.

"He seems to thrive on that type of thing. So we've used him in the cup and he's worked hard and he's worked well."

Phelan will soon be spoilt for choice as Scotland international Allan McGregor is making steady progress following back surgery in the summer.

"I have two fit goalkeepers who are outstanding at the moment and one in the wings who is recovering, so we're fortunate in that department," he said.

"Maybe, with the goals we've conceded, I might play both of them!"

Phelan is not so fortunate in the attacking department. Dieumerci Mbokani's straight red card on Tuesday night could leave Hull with just one available senior striker.

Michael Keane is out for the season following knee surgery while Abel Hernandez has missed the last three games due to a groin injury and Phelan spoke of his disappointment at Mbokani's dismissal.

"I spoke to him after the match," he added. "He understands the situation and we have to deal with it now.

"There's not a lot more we can do. He will be out for a few games and we have to move on.

"It's an issue because it's another player who we don't have available to us.

"In the past I've mentioned he has done really well when he's started a game and given us a bit of a target and momentum to our play going forward.

"Out of the whole evening that was the biggest disappointment really, to lose a player. We didn't expect that. "

Phelan, who has no new injury worries, did not rule out a return for Hernandez but said he would not rush the Uruguay international, while the Hull boss was delighted to be facing former club Manchester United in the last four of the EFL Cup.

"It's terrific," he added. "We go to a two-legged affair, home and away, and the players will be prepared and ready and up for it.

"For me personally it's something special because I spent most of my career there as a player and coach so to at least have the opportunity to go back there, I think we play them in the league as well in January, so I get two days out at Old Trafford, hopefully successfully."

Press Association

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