Hull City must wait for Ahmed Elmohamady to return from Sunderland
HULL City look set to meet further frustrations in their efforts to re-sign Ahmed Elmohamady before Thursday's transfer deadline, with Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill reluctant to approve a second loan this week.
Elmohamady has been back at the Stadium of Light for the last fortnight after seeing his influential season-long loan with the Tigers unexpectedly cut short on January 15.
City boss Steve Bruce has always retained hope of seeing the Egyptian return once Sunderland's injury problems ease, but that now appears unlikely to come during the January window.
Although the Tigers would soon be able to rekindle their interest in Elmohamady on an emergency loan basis from February 8, the 93-day limit on such deals would impose restrictions if City were to face a play-off campaign in May.
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Elmohamady is expected to be on Sunderland's bench when they host Swansea tonight and the continued absence of several first-team players means O'Neill is unwilling to see the wing-back depart at present.
"I wouldn't have thought he'll go before Thursday," said O'Neill in reference to Elmohamady's future.
"Of course Hull are disappointed and Elmo wants to continue starting in the side.
"I can't guarantee that at this moment here, but we'll see what happens. There are a few options open to us."
Sunderland's bid to sign Swansea striker Danny Graham could boost City's hopes on Elmohamady, but Bruce knows the situation remains uncomfortably out of his hands.
While the player appears to have little future under O'Neill with 18 months remaining on his deal, a threadbare Black Cats squad demands his presence for now.
Such has been Elmohamady's huge creative influence on the Tigers' promotion bid this term, Bruce would be willing to wait for his man to become available next month.
Football League clubs are able to trade in emergency loans from February 8, but Bruce would need to weigh up any possibilities of an extended season.
For a player to be eligible for the Championship play-off final on May 27, for example, 93-day limits dictate he could not have joined his loan club any time before February 24. If a player was to join on the same day the emergency loan window opens, meanwhile, that deal would be capped up to May 12.
City's heavy demands in February may force Bruce's hand as they look to maintain a push for automatic promotion next month, but a failure to land Elmohamady on a full loan before Thursday will invite a conundrum.
Bruce has endured a testing month since beginning January with a bang when signing David Meyler and Robbie Brady for a combined £3.5m.
Attempts to sign QPR striker DJ Campbell have stalled in the last week and Bruce accepted he was "not hopeful" of landing a new striker before Thursday.
City would be able to recall Aaron Mclean from his loan Ipswich if required. Although the 29-year-old was expected to remain at Portman Road for the rest of the season, a 28-day recall option could see him back at the KC Stadium from Friday onwards.