Millwall return to The Den this weekend in Sky Bet Championship action as they take on Nigel Adkins’ Hull City.
In a tight bottom half in which only five points separate 16th and 23rd, The Lions sit 22nd after earning a respectable draw at Bristol City last Sunday, with visitors Hull rising to 18th on Saturday after starting December with an impressive 3-2 victory away at QPR. The contest represents the first of two meetings at The Den between the sides after Monday’s draw for the Emirates FA Cup Third Round, pairing the clubs for a tie to be played in early January. An added incentive is that a win for Neil Harris’ men would take them above The Tigers in the table.
Founded in 1904, Hull City began playing League football shortly after their inception and have since remained an established club across all four divisions. The Tigers have been promoted to the top flight on three occasions, all in the last 11 years, making their Premier League bow in the 2008/09 season and surviving on the final day under Phil Brown. This came after three promotions in five years, and the club reached their first FA Cup Final in 2014 and the League Cup Semi-Finals in 2016/17 to rubber-stamp their remarkable progress in recent years. This is Hull’s second season in their current Championship spell after finishing 18th last term, with Adkins taking over as manager this time last year to replace Russian Leonid Slutsky.
Ones to Watch
Jackson Irvine (#16) has been a reliable performer for many of the clubs he has played for, and earned his move to English football in 2016 with Burton Albion. The 25-year-old’s solitary full season with The Brewers saw his top-scoring 10 goals from midfield steer the club to Championship safety and earn him the club’s Player of the Year award, with the successful year granting the Australian international a move to the KCOM Stadium. A versatile central player who can operate in both deep and attacking midfield roles, Irvine made 34 League appearances in the black and amber last season, and has become a mainstay in Adkins’ side. A former Celtic youth player following his move to the UK from Melbourne, Irvine gained experience on loan at Kilmarnock and Ross County, signing a deal with the latter and winning the Scottish League Cup before becoming Burton’s record signing. Irvine made his full Australia debut at the age of 20, and has since won 24 caps and appeared at this year’s World Cup.
Markus Henriksen (#22) was appointed skipper by Adkins for the start of this season, and has been one of the squad’s most prominent players with 17 appearances in midfield. A Norwegian international, Henriksen opened his scoring account for the campaign with the second of Hull’s three as they secured an impressive win at QPR last time out. The 26-year-old has already been playing senior football for a decade, starting out with hometown club Rosenborg for whom his father also played for and managed. Henriksen won two League titles in Norway with the club before joining AZ Alkmaar, where he won the Dutch Cup in 2013. A loan spell on Humberside followed, before Henriksen signed a permanent deal in 2017. The midfield man has already bagged 45 Norway caps, beginning when he was just 18.
Jarrod Bowen (#20) is one of Hull City’s most talented young players for a number of years. The forward burst onto the scene in The Tigers’ first team in 2016, two years after joining the club as a teenager from hometown side Hereford United and progressing through the youth sides. Winning two of the club’s Player of the Year awards at the end of last campaign, Bowen has become one of Hull’s most highly coveted talents, and at just 21 has accumulated a solid deal of Championship experience. Adept as a striker, wide player or even in a deeper role, Bowen possesses great energy, confidence and a terrific finishing ability – and joint-leads the side’s goalscoring chart with Fraizer Campbell as it stands this term.
Fraizer Campbell (#25) has enjoyed a high-profile career, playing over a decade of his senior football in the Premier League. The predatory striker – with six League goals this season – is into his second spell in a Tigers shirt, having contributed with a significant goal return as the club won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 2008. Campbell was on loan from Manchester United at the time, for whom he progressed through the club’s world-renowned youth setup. Also spending time away from United at Tottenham Hotspur and Royal Antwerp, Campbell joined Sunderland on a permanent deal in 2009, and three years later made his senior England debut against the Netherlands after being called up by interim manager Stuart Pearce, who had coached the striker in The Three Lions’ U21 side. Signing for Cardiff City following their promotion into the top-flight, Campbell later moved on to Crystal Palace before becoming a coup up top for Hull. Still 31, Campbell’s career shows no sign of slowing down.
In the Dugout
Nigel Adkins arrived at Hull City a year ago yesterday after replacing Leonid Slutsky, and during his time in charge steered the club comfortably clear of initial relegation fears. Adkins’ first full season could be considered a mixed bag for The Tigers, with last season’s ability to score plenty of goals fading somewhat this term. A former goalkeeper for Tranmere Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Bangor City, Adkins took over Bangor in his first managerial role in 1993. Following a spell as club physiotherapist at Scunthorpe United, the 53-year-old took the unorthodox step back into management with The Iron. Two promotions and one relegation later, Adkins joined Southampton and guided the club to a Premier League return in 2012, later managing Reading and Sheffield United.