Why Hull City should move for Irish duo Jack Byrne and Lee Grace
As per the report, the Tigers are open to the prospect of signing another creative central midfielder, with Jan Toral expected to be on the treatment table until February after undergoing knee surgery. As a result, Jack Bryne has been identified as someone who fits the bill (h/t Hull Live).
Byrne rose through the youth ranks of Man City but he struggled to make the grade and had loan stints at Blackburn Rovers, as well as at Dutch top-flight club Cambuur, before departing for Wigan Athletic in search of first-team action.
However, an ill-fated spell at the DW Stadium paved the way for the Irishman to drop down to the third-tier with Oldham Athletic before he completed a switch north of the border to Kilmarnock, with a view to resurrecting his career.
Things, though, didn’t pan out very well for Byrne at Kilmarnock and his career was in danger of going completely off the boil when the 23-year-old returned to his homeland with Shamrock Rovers last summer following his release from Rugby Park.
The Irish top-flight might not be up there with the top leagues in the continent but Byrne has put all the disappointment behind him to start afresh and his career is very much back on track following an overly successful debut season at Shamrock.
The Dublin-born star racked up 8 goals and 4 assists in 32 appearances for his club in the League of Ireland Premier Division and bagged the PFAI Player of the Year award, while also impressing the qualifying rounds of the Europa League.
Not only that, but Jack Byrne is now an international football, having been handed his senior professional bow by Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy during last month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The 23-year-old’s burgeoning stocks in his homeland have caught the eye of Hull City, with a return to English football now looking very much on the cards for the midfielder.
Lee Grace, 26, is essentially a centre-back by trade and while he has never plied his trade outside of his homeland, the Tigers are set to assess him at close quarters during a trial period at the KCOM Stadium after the defender put in some good performances in Shamrock’s Europa League qualifying campaign.
Grace has made a total of 84 appearances for Shamrock in all competitions so far and with his contract set to expire in December 2019, Hull City have set their sights on him as someone who could possibly a bit more depth to their backline moving forward.
To put things into perspective, Hull City’s interest in Jack Byrne and Lee Grace is likely to draw mixed reactions from the fans in East Yorkshire but given the club’s lack of financial muscle in their post-Premier League years, the Irish duo could make for some handsome low-cost additions to the Tigers’ ranks.
Notwithstanding the fact that signing players from the Irish top-flight could be a gamble due to the difference in the level of competition, McCann needs to be aware of the lack of depth in his central defensive and central midfield options, something that can be sorted out with the acquisition of Grace and Byrne.
With central midfielders Markus Henriksen and Jackson Irvine out of contract next summer, Jon Toral set to spend the next few months on the sidelines and summer recruit George Honeyman, failing to make an impact, Hull City have every reason to look at Jack Bryne as someone who could possibly chip in with some valuable goal returns from the midfield.
Grace, on the other hand, has never plied his trade outside of his homeland, however, with Everton loanee Matthew Pennington failing to gain the trust of McCann and Robbie McKenzie out contract next summer, Hull City shouldn’t hesitate to move for the 26-year-old if they feel that he is good enough to make the jump.
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Suffice to say, the Tigers need more depth and quality in their ranks to push for a top-six finish in the Championship and the likes of Lee Grace and Jack Byrne could prove to be useful additions to the squad.