HULL CITY player Sean McLoughlin always believed he had a future at the club despite minimum game time last season.
After signing for the Tigers in 2019, the former Cork City player signed a new three-year deal with the club last year despite not being a regular in the first-team.
However, McLoughlin has become a regular feature in Hull’s starting 11 this season and won the club’s player of the month for December.
“I’m not going to lie, it was tough playing very little, especially since the club won the league,” McLoughlin said.
“It would have been great to enjoy more of that success on the pitch. I know it sounds cliche but all I was focused on was training hard and trying to show every day what I could do.
“That’s all I could do really to get back into the team. There’s no point sulking.
“I couldn’t really have too many complaints either because the team were doing so well, so it’s not like I could be giving out about not playing when the team was winning each week.
“Not playing is part of the job and it’s important that players handle that in the right manner.
“I knew once I got my opportunity that I would get back into the team. I was never thinking to myself; ‘I’m not good enough’.
“All I was thinking was that when I do get my opportunity, I need to be ready, and to achieve that, I needed to remain fit by training at a high level.”
There was a change of ownership and manager this season for the Tigers which can sometimes cause unrest amongst the players but McLoughlin was full of praise for owner Acun Ilicali and manager Shota Arveladze.
“I suppose we were aware that there could be a change of ownership before it happened, and to be honest, it does raise doubts in players’ minds in terms of would that lead to a large turnover of players, but the owner has been brilliant.
“He spoke to reassure us of his belief in the group of players at the club. Grant (McCann) was in charge of the team at the time but I suppose every owner has their own ideas and he replaced him with the new manager.
“Grant knows the league very well and knows English football and enjoyed success with the club.
“The new manager is excellent in terms of his tactics. Everyday I feel like I am learning from him.
“I definitely can see that he has a vision for the club and will keep aiming to implement his ideas over time.”
Hull find themselves outside of the relegation zone at this moment and after being in a similar position two seasons ago, the Tigers are not taking anything for granted.
“You always hear of the Championship being a crazy league, but it really is. Anyone can beat anyone.
“I think what separates the teams from the top to the bottom is just having one or two individuals that can make that difference.
“Take (Aleksandar) Mitrovic for example. I remember playing Fulham and thinking that I was doing well against him.
“He hadn’t really had an opportunity but then he scored a header and I was thinking to myself, ‘how has he managed to score that’, he’s just one of those players that will punish you for any little mistake.
“I remember playing against Bournemouth a few weeks ago and for the first 45 minutes we couldn’t get near them.
“I don’t know how we managed to come in at half-time level because we just couldn’t get out of our half but the second-half was totally different and we ended up winning the game.
That game summed up the Championship. One moment we were hanging on and the next we were winning the game.
“It’s a crazy league and that is why, although we have a healthy point gap between ourselves and the relegation zone, we are taking nothing for granted.
“Derby have been unbelievable in terms of putting themselves in a position of staying up, after all, they have had to endure.
“When we were relegated two years ago with just a few games remaining, we found ourselves outside of the relegation zone but went down so we will be taking nothing for granted.”
Being away from home can lead to homesickness for some Irish players but McLoughlin admits he is not someone that falls into this category.
“I do love going home but I don’t get homesick.
“My girlfriend moved over with me from very early on which has made a big difference and my family is travelling over more now with restrictions easing.
“I also just got a dog that we called Polly so she keeps me occupied during my time off.”