Belfast Telegraph

Hull must decide if loan signing Omar Elabdellaoui is ready for Chelsea trip

Hull head coach Marco Silva must decide whether to throw new loan signing Omar Elabdellaoui straight into the fray on Sunday at Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Elabdellaoui, 25, solved the Tigers' right-back problem and became Silva's third signing at the KCOM Stadium when he joined from Olympiacos until the end of the season on Friday.

But the Norway international has not played a competitive game since November due to an ankle injury and Silva may opt to start with fit-again midfielder David Meyler on the right side of his defence in the continued absence of Moses Odubajo.

Elabdellaoui is reunited with former Olympiacos coach Silva and the player's arrival was clearly one of the Portuguese's top priorities when he replaced Mike Phelan earlier this month.

"First of all we needed one player for that position because we've played three games without one right-back," Silva said.

"Meyler and (Harry) Maguire did their best and they had very good performances, but they're not really natural right-backs.

"Elabdellaoui is an international player. He's a fast player and one I know. He worked with me for one year and I believe in the player and believe he'll improve our squad."

Silva could be without talisman Robert Snodgrass as the Scotland international battles to overcome a slight muscle strain, while Ahmed Elmohamady (Egypt) and Dieumerci Mbokani (DR Congo) are on African Nations Cup duty.

The Tigers boss must also fill the gap left by Jake Livermore's £10million switch to West Brom with Evandro, the Brazilian midfielder signed last week from Porto, hoping to make his first start.

Hull secured their first win in 10 Premier League games at home last week against Bournemouth to kick-start their fight for survival and Silva feels that victory has lifted his players before the daunting trip to Stamford Bridge.

"It's been a good week for us," Silva said. "We will have more sessions before the game and it's important.

"I feel the players are happier after our last few games and that's important.

"After one win, it's easier and better to work with the players. It's important to look at the players' faces and see the confidence."

The Tigers' survival chances could hinge on how they come out of their next four league fixtures as the trip to London is followed by successive games against Manchester United (away), Liverpool (home) and Arsenal (away).

An EFL Cup return leg against United and an FA Cup clash at Fulham are sandwiched in between, but Silva refused to look beyond Sunday.

"It's a difficult game, sure," he added. "They are the best team in the Premier League, they're in first position.

"They didn't start well but they changed some things in the team and have had a fantastic season.

"At home they have won nine and only lost one game. It's a tough game for us, but we have confidence we will play (well) and compete in this game."


From Belfast Telegraph