Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Jimmy, when are you coming back?

It's peculiar just how much Hull City's destiny seems set to be guided by a player who has, in the grand scheme of things, barely kicked a ball for the club. But with Jimmy Bullard, it remains definitively the case.

That brief period in November when Bullard was fit, and playing so well that he picked up the Player of the Month award as the Tigers were utterly transformed, has acted as the biggest hope for ultimate Premier League survival as, once again, we get tantalisingly close to his latest comeback.

Bullard didn't play in Galway at the weekend, a jaunt organised as City's scheduled Premier League opponents Aston Villa were at Wembley, but has played a proper number of minutes in friendlies against Bolton Wanderers and now, yesterday, Doncaster Rovers. He has scored goals, looked sharp and emerged unscathed.

So will he play on Sunday?

City are at Everton, a form team who will also have a spot of retribution on their mind after what they will probably argue was their biggest humiliation of the season when the Tigers, ironically with Bullard having a rest, took a 3-0 half time lead at the KC and eventually won 3-2.

Much will depend on just how firmly Phil Brown has put a tick next to Everton's name. City have still to win away this season and one suspects that at least one, possibly more, maximum hauls on the road are still required to make sure that top tier status is preserved. The long trip to Portsmouth a fortnight later will have the most profound ticks next to it, and our final away game of the season is winnable too, as it is at Wigan Athletic on the penultimate day.

Given that Arsenal, Villa and Liverpool are still to visit the KC Stadium, that need for points on the road becomes more vital, and so maybe Bullard's inclusion at Everton is necessary as well as welcome. We may still not beat Everton with him, but few will back us to do so without him.