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Mike Phelan resigned to falling attendances at Hull's KCOM Stadium

Published 25/11/2016

Mike Phelan says he cannot influence the club's stay-away fans
Mike Phelan says he cannot influence the club's stay-away fans

Hull manager Mike Phelan accepts there is little he can do to persuade the club's stay-away fans to return to the KCOM Stadium.

Just 17,768 supporters turned out to watch Hull halt a run of six straight Premier League defeats with victory against Southampton in their last home match - a new record low for the club in the top flight.

The Tigers will bid to climb out of the relegation zone at the KCOM Stadium against West Brom on Saturday, but Phelan said the low attendances this season are not just a reflection of his side's struggles.

"We can try and encourage them as much as we can to come into the ground to support the players, who are trying," Phelan said.

"We are in the big league, the Premier League, so I would have thought that was a nice incentive to get involved.

"But obviously they have their reasons. I can't influence those who make that decision not to come."

Fans have been in protest at the manner in which Hull is being run by owner Assem Allam, who put them up for sale in 2014 when he lost his fight to change their name to Hull Tigers.

Former manager Steve Bruce resigned in July after becoming increasingly frustrated by a lack of summer transfer activity, while the Allam family have been in talks with several parties interested in a takeover since the club won promotion back to the top flight.

"All I can ask for is for full backing from the ones who sit on those seats and they get behind the players, and I'm sure they will because we've not had a real issue with that," Phelan said.

"Nobody wants to see empty seats at a Premier League football stadium, but that's where we're at, we need to do our job on the football field to maybe encourage more to come back.

"But I think it goes a little bit deeper than just the football."

Phelan confirmed Scotland international Andrew Robertson could return to action against West Brom as his side bid to improve on a run of just one win in their last 10 league matches.

"Andy's trained two days, full training, this week obviously after six weeks out with a calf injury," he said.

"There are options now in our team in that position, so he's available that's for sure.

"Whether we start with him or we use him on the bench, we'll decide later."

While Phelan welcomes the impending return of a defender with Robertson's pedigree, his side's lack of firepower remains his biggest concern.

Hull have scored four goals in their last seven league games and after losing summer signing Will Keane to a season-ending knee injury, Phelan is targeting a new striker in January.

Adama Diomande is back in contention after serving a three-game ban, but Phelan will be without DR Congo international Dieumerci Mbokani early in the new year due to the African Nations Cup.

Phelan said Southampton's out-of-favour Jay Rodriguez was not the only forward on his radar.

"W e are trying, we're interested in a couple," he added. "People like Jay Rodriguez, who are getting sporadic games at their clubs.

"But there are others. We just have to monitor everybody and hopefully we can get the right ones who fit, who we can possibly bring in."

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