SIMON GRAYSON can’t wait to have Keith Southern back in his squad.
Town’s no-nonsense midfielder returns following a three-match ban for Saturday’s 12.30 Championship clash with Hull at the KC Stadium, where he was a 1-0 winner with Blackpool last season.
Grayson’s men have picked up only one point from nine in Southern’s absence, and the boss hopes his summer signing from old club the Seasiders will help clinch a first win in six games.
“There’s no doubt we’ve missed him,” said Grayson, whose side are 15th ahead of their first trip to Hull since New Year’s Day 2005, when they lost 2-1 in a League I match.
“I knew exactly what I was getting in Keith – experience, energy, ability and a very committed and competitive player.
“He can get our attacks going and break up those of the opposition and give vital protection to the back four.”
Town unsuccessfully appealed Southern’s straight red card in the 1-1 draw at Charlton last month, only his third sending off in close to 400 games at club level.
The 31-year-old, who had a tune-up in a behind-closed doors clash with Burnley on Tuesday afternoon, had been an ever-present up until then and Grayson added: “We still think it was harsh, so to lose the appeal was doubly frustrating.
“Keith is itching to get back into action and hopefully his frustration will be channelled into helping up get three points.”
Hull, managed by former Town boss Steve Bruce, are fourth in the wake of successive away wins over Nottingham Forest and Watford.
But they are chasing a first win in three at home after a 1-0 defeat by Burnley and goalless draw with Crystal Palace.
Bruce’s squad includes son Alex, the centre-back who played three games for Town on loan from Leeds last season.
Town centre-back Anthony Gerrard spent the 2010-11 campaign on loan at Hull from Cardiff.