ADAM CLAYTON is ready to put one over on his old commuting colleague Alex Bruce by driving Huddersfield Town to success at Hull tomorrow.
Both players are based in Manchester, and travelled into training together when they were with Leeds last season.
While midfielder Clayton was reunited with his old Elland Road boss Simon Grayson in the summer, ex-Town loan centre-back Bruce linked up with his dad Steve, a former Town manager, following his appointment at the KC Stadium in succession to Nick Barmby.
The 28-year-old, who played three times for Town this time last year, has become a key part of a three-man defensive line at Hull, who have climbed to fourth in the Championship after winning six of their last nine games.
“Alex is a great bloke,” smiled Clayton. “There were a few of us travelling in together – myself, Alex, Michael Brown and Danny Pugh.
“We had a good bit of banter, and these days, I often think of the other lads as I’m pulling off the M62 at Huddersfield, because they’re just about to run into all the traffic!”
A shorter journey into work isn’t the only reason former Manchester City player Clayton, 23, is enjoying life at Town, for whom he will make his 22nd appearance at the KC Stadium.
“I feel like I’m at a club on the up,” he explained. “I’ve established a good rapport with the fans, and while we’ve been a bit inconsistent, I feel we are finding our feet in the Championship.
“Working with the manager again is great, and his presence here was a big pull for me when it came to signing.
“We were actually on holiday in the same place in the summer (Cancun, in Mexico), and the manager made a point of coming to see me and telling me of his plans and what part he wanted me to play in them, and that meant a lot to me.”
Town are 11 places and nine points behind tomorrow’s hosts, and Clayton, a stand-out performer in last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Bolton, continued: “A couple of wins will soon get us back up the table.
“The games are coming thick and fast over Christmas, and we’re looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
Town are at Crystal Palace a week tomorrow, when kick-off is 5.20 for Sky coverage, before hosting Blackpool on Boxing Day (3.00) and Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, December 29 (12.30).
Then it’s Leicester away on New Year’s Day, but for the moment, slowing Hull’s push to reclaim the Premier League place lost in 2010 is the sole focus.
While experienced midfielder Keith Southern returns after a three-match ban for his sending off at Charlton, Town hope to have on-loan Leicester striker Jermaine Beckford and versatile defender Joel Lynch back in the frame following hamstring problems.
Beckford has missed five games and Lynch one.
Left-back Paul Dixon serves a one-match ban after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Leeds.
Lynch, ex-Hull loan defender Anthony Gerrard and striker James Vaughan are all on four yellow cards.
Hull have a doubt over Republic of Ireland international Paul McShane, who has been playing alongside Bruce and James Chester, a reported £1.5m target of Aston Villa, in central defence.
Former Sunderland man McShane has a calf problem, so Jack Hobbs, fit again after a knee injury, in on stand-by.
Strikers Sone Aluko and Matty Fryatt (both Achilles) and defender Joe Dudgeon are ruled out.