Team spirit key to Hull City's bouncebackability, says Steve Agnew
HULL City assistant boss Steve Agnew believes the Tigers' steadfast team spirit can be the inspiration for a sustained promotion challenge.
The Tigers produced the perfect remedy to a week of frustration at the KC Stadium, bouncing back from a 1-0 loss to Burnley and a 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace to win 2-1 at promotion rivals Nottingham Forest.
An 11th win of the season, courtesy of a Robert Koren penalty and a Paul McShane winner, maintained City's play-off place and lifted them above Millwall to fifth.
A testing month will continue with a tough trip to in-form Watford this weekend, but Agnew believes City have a togetherness that will serve them well.
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"Any player or manager will tell you that you need that team spirit and these lads have got it in abundance," said Agnew.
"They're a really tight group and, as you saw, they work really hard for each other. That's what can be the difference sometimes. We want to be challenging at the right end of the league and where we're sat right now is thoroughly deserved.
"We've had the odd blip and had performances that haven't been up to scratch, but they're a terrific group of players to work with. The manager and all the staff enjoy every day with them.
"When you enjoy working together, the success inevitably becomes more consistent. Let's hope, with us coming up to the Christmas period, that we can keep making the most of the chance we've given ourselves. With a little bit more consistency, who knows where that could take us?"
City's ranks are displaying heartening depth as the demanding Christmas period looms, but the services of midfielder David Meyler could be lost ahead of this weekend's trip to in-from Watford.
The Republic of Ireland international will hit the 28-day mark of his loan spell from Sunderland on Thursday and, as a result, could be recalled by the injury-hit Black Cats.
There has been no definitive answer from Sunderland as they attempt to cover the loss of captain Lee Cattermole to injury, but Agnew admitted Meyler could be recalled.
"There's a possibility of it, we'll just have to wait and see. I think Steve (Bruce) will make contact with Sunderland this week and see what the next few days brings us."
The potential loss of Meyler would be offset by the availability of Tom Cairney for this weekend's trip to Vicarage Road, while Paul McKenna and Seyi Olofinjana would also look to stake a claim.
Sone Aluko, who missed Saturday's win with a minor strain, will be another hopeful of a recall against Gianfranco Zola's sixth-placed Hornets.
"Fingers crossed, with a bit of treatment he'll have a chance of being involved next Saturday at Watford," Agnew said.