Considering it took around a month of pursuing him and at least three offers, it is maybe a surprise to see Grant Hanley getting so few opportunities from Rafa Benitez.
Hanley played the full game at Fulham on the opening day when pretty much everybody was poor, including the former Blackburn Captain.
Since then, Grant Hanley has been left on the bench or indeed out of the Championship matchday squad altogether, apart from a 25 minute appearance (and goal) at QPR after the match was already won.
Hanley played the full game in the League Cup win over Cheltenham and must be a certainty to play tonight, maybe even keep his place on Saturday at Villa if he performs, considering how badly Lascelles and Mbemba did against Wolves.
Considering the lengths that Rafa went to, he must surely rate Grant Hanley highly. Certainly since the defender and captain left Blackburn they have had a dramatic collapse, currently joint bottom with Cardiff on only five points, having conceded 17 goals in eight games so far.
Grant Hanley says that with Rafa’ rotation policy, there is ‘always a chance to put your name forward and show what you have got’, maybe it will be the Scottish international’s chance of that tonight.
Grant Hanley talking to NUFC TV:
“In this league, after you have a bad game you always get a chance to put things right quickly. The main focus is on promotion and that is the main push – but it is a chance for us to right that wrong (losing to Wolves) from Saturday.
“Cup games are always a chance for players who haven’t been able to play to get a chance.
“You see the league games as well and he (Rafa Benitez) has rotated his squad, his starting eleven. So always a chance to put your name forward and show what you have got.
“That is the beauty of this squad, having so many players and having so many games, it keeps everybody fresh – everybody on their toes. Having players fighting for every position it is only going to do the squad good.
“With them (Wolves) getting a bit of joy on Saturday I’d imagine they will probably set up in a similar way. So it is up to us to improve and find a way to break them down.
“Cup runs are always good: good for the club, good for the fans, good for the players. It gives the manager a chance to rotate his squad and gives players a chance to stake a place in the team.”