Hull caretaker boss Mike Phelan will busy himself with welcome selection dilemmas as it is unlikely he will receive the birthday present he really wanted in time for this weekend’s Premier League clash at Liverpool.
Phelan, 54 on Saturday, is still waiting to be confirmed as the Tigers’ permanent manager despite being offered a contract, with the club’s owners unable to give him assurances due to the on-going takeover talks at the KCOM Stadium.
But the former Manchester United number two has plenty to ponder before the trip to Anfield after all six of his recent signings made their full debuts in the midweek EFL Cup win at Stoke.
Two of them, record signing Ryan Mason and fellow midfielder Markus Henriksen, marked their first appearances with eye-catching goals, while goalkeeper David Marshall also staked his claim for a league debut.
“It was a great opportunity to give debuts to all those players, to see what they had and can bring to this team,” Phelan said.
“They’ve done a good job. It’s a settling in period still for them. There are big games ahead, the squad will be used, it’s just a case now of finding the right balance and getting the players in who can perform for this football club.”
Hull’s other new signings, midfielder James Weir, plus strikers Will Keane and Dieumerci Mbokani, were also given run outs in Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Stoke.
Phelan must also decide on whether to retain Harry Maguire alongside skipper Curtis Davies in central defence.
Maguire stepped in on Wednesday for the suspended Jake Livermore, who has been impressive as a makeshift centre-half in Hull’s first five league matches.
“Everybody wants to play and it’s my time to make decisions,” Phelan said.
“I’ll do that, it’s not a problem. I’m sure all the players understand the situation. There’s a lot of games to go, it’s a long season and they all know that at some point they will all get games at this club.”
Phelan was made an offer last week to become permanent boss by Hull’s current owners, the Allam family, who had hoped to complete a takeover deal with a Chinese consortium, headed by a brother and sister partnership of Dai Yongge and Dai Xin Li, during the last international break.
The Premier League launched its owners’ and directors’ test, but that group’s exclusivity period has ended and the club is now is talks with a Chinese/American consortium brought together by businessman Chien Lee.
Lee’s consortium bought an 80 per cent stake in French Ligue 1 club Nice earlier in the summer, while there have also been unsubstantiated reports that a third consortium, fronted by former Hull chairman Adam Pearson, has tabled an offer for the club.
Phelan, who confirmed he last spoke to the Allams on his own position last Sunday, added: “It’s difficult for me to comment because I don’t know the whole issues.
“Takeovers are confusing, there are rumours, there’s all sorts going on and I’m just trying to stay focused on my players.
“The supporters want answers and they will get them in time I’m sure. I want to know what the position is from my point of view, but I’m still sitting here doing the job I was asked to do and it’s up to other people to make those decisions as quick as they can.”