Hull City v Sunderland: Three key dangers Tony Mowbray's team needs to be wary of
A young English prospect, a wily midfield duo and a mercurial – sometimes devastating - Colombian powerhouse striker.
Championship strugglers they might be, but Hull City will pose at least three key areas of danger when they host Sunderland at the MKM Stadium on Saturday.
The Tigers underlined their potential as they returned to action after the World Cup break with a well-earned point away at play-off chasing Watford.
The hosts may be 21st in the division, but after Monday night’s home setback against West Brom, Tony Mowbray’s men know all too well the danger of taking lower-placed sides lightly.
But where exactly do Hull threaten to pose Sunderland most problems? Here we pick out the three main potential Tigers’ terrors.
Two players...108 caps
Hull opt for experience over youth at the heart of their team, with two first-choice central midfielders boasting 100-plus international games, as well as Premier League and European football, on their joint CV.
Ozan Tufan – who only recently returned from injury – and Jean Michaël Seri have a pedigree which Hull’s new manager Liam Rosenior will hope can harm Sunderland’s midfield.
Rosenior’s side play a short possession-style game which looks to lean on the strengths of their midfield, where Tufan’s ability is underlined by his 65 caps for Turkey.
And it is only just over two years since Fulham paid around £25m for Seri, who has previously been a mainstay of the Ivory Coast midfield.
Whilst the duo have not controlled games like their manager would like, Tony Mowbray will look to the likes of Corry Evans to prevent them from setting the tempo of the game.
Despite the Tigers sitting one point above the relegation zone, there is little doubt they possess one of the Championship’s potentially brightest attacking sparks in Oscar Estupinan.
Landed on a free transfer in the summer from Portuguese top-flight club Vitoria Guimaraes, Estupinan – despite sitting out Hull’s last three games through suspension - is just one goal shy of the league’s leading scorer.
The Colombian has netted eight times this season, is generally clinical in and around the six-yard box and is also dominant in the air.
And Estupinan will surely have noted the damage done by West Brom’s bustling striker Daryl Dike in the second half at the Stadium of Light on Monday night and be savouring his return to action.
Hull have certainly not been without their defensive struggles so far this season, and that has contributed to their low league position.
But one of their shining lights has been 22-year-old Hull-born left back Jacob Greaves. The versatile defender started the season uneasily at centre-back, but his transition to the left side of Hull’s defence has shown his quality.
Greaves is the only player to feature in all the Tigers 21 games so far this season, captained the side recently, and has made four goal contributions – including scoring his first two goals for the club - in the last seven games.
Sunderland will do well to note the dangers Greaves can pose going forward, and Amad Diallo will surely be ordered to try and expose any defensive uncertainty still felt by Greaves and a generally leaky back four.