Jimmy Bullard has applauded Hull’s decision to reject a £5m deadline day bid for Stephen Hunt and believes it will help galvanise the squad.
The debt-troubled Tigers entered the transfer window hoping to significantly trim both their first-team squad and their wage bill but resisted the temptation to cash in on Hunt when relegation rivals Wolves made a third improved bid yesterday.
Daniel Cousin and Peter Halmosi did depart the KC Stadium, on loan to Larissa and Szombathelyi Haladas respectively, but Bullard believes the continued presence of Hunt – who is expected to line up against title-chasing Chelsea tonight – represents a big boost to the club’s survival hopes.
“It’s good, it’s brilliant,” said Bullard, whose return from a knee ligament injury is expected to take another three to four weeks.
“It’s is what you need to hear as a player. The longer we can keep Stephen Hunt the better it is for Hull City, without a shadow of a doubt.
“It’s great news for all of us.
“Hunty’s an all-rounder. As well as being a good lad he’s fit, he’s energetic, he’s not afraid, he can get stuck in and he’s been scoring goals for us.
“He has scored six, I think, which is great for a midfielder and we’re just out of January.
“For me, he’s the whole package.”
Bullard’s sentiments were echoed by City’s assistant manager Brian Horton when he announced the decision to rebuff the Wolves cash.
“The club received a verbal offer of £5million for Stephen Hunt. This has been completely rejected and we’re not expecting any further bids,” said Horton.
“Unless it’s an offer you feel is one you completely have to take, no manager wants to sell his best players so that is the end of the story with Stephen Hunt.
“You heard the press he got from one of his former team-mates, the goalkeeper (Marcus) Hahnemann, at the weekend about what a good player he was and that if they got him they would stay up and if we kept him we would stay up. Let’s hope that’s the case.”
Meanwhile Bullard, who will be on hand to cheer his team-mates on against Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues at the KC tomorrow, is looking forward to playing a more active role in the survival bid.
“I’m getting there slowly. I’ve been out eight weeks, coming up nine, and we’re getting closer,” he said.
“I’ve had no hiccups, it’s just taken longer for the ligament to heal for me personally.
“But I won’t be totally happy until I get a ball at my feet, get the boots on and start kicking it about.
“It can be dark times in the gym...but there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”