Lee Darnbrough admits coming through English football’s national school at Lilleshall has helped him maintain an impressive contacts book, as he plots Hull City’s next band of recruits.

City’s head of recruitment is a former goalkeeper and spent two years at the FA’s former centre of excellence at Lilleshall Hall in Shropshire, coming through the ranks with the likes of former Liverpool and England ace Jamie Carragher.

Darnbrough, a former goalkeeper with Oldham Athletic retired from professional football at the age of 19 before moving into football analytics, and is now responsible for fashioning a squad capable of operating in the Championship.

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Keeping on top of what’s happening around player recruitment is key for Darnbrough, to ensure City can tap into various pools of talent.

“Yes, but I’m not sure I’ll be going on Sky Sports, that’s not for me,” he joked when asked by BBC Radio Humberside about keeping in contact with Carragher.

“Listen, from those days when we were at Lilleshall, you had Jamie, Stephen Clements, Marlon Brooms, Lee Crooks – they might not mean a lot (to those reading) but they’ve had good careers and from that point of their, they’re in the game.

“From ours, and yes, there’s previous managers that I’ve worked for or from a coaching staff point of view, there’s probably nobody they don’t know from a coaching sphere anyway, so we are well connected.

“The guys on the ground, they’re really important because they keep their mouths shut and their ears open, that’s an important part to play as well, whether it’s hearing potential moves of players, whether it’s trying to find out gossip ahead of time.

“It’s an important part of play, contacts and building networks.”

Hull City head of recruitment Lee Darnbrough.
Hull City head of recruitment Lee Darnbrough.

City made a raft of new signings over the summer, as McCann reshaped his squad following the League One title win, and Darnbrough says his staff are already working beyond January and next summer’s transfer window.

“We always try and look 12 months in advance, so if you wait until February/March time to try and make plans then you’re probably too late,” he said.

“Of course situations change, our job is to react to those situations.

“Having lists of names for any scenario, we could get promoted, so you have to cover every situation to the point where you have your plan in place and you can hopefully implement it as soon as possible.”

Boss McCann has always been keen to get as much work done as possible early in pre-season, and did so again in the summer just gone, bringing in George Moncur, Andy Cannon, Randell Williams and Nathan Baxter,” something Darnbrough says is down to the preference of each manager.

“Over the summers when Grant’s been here we’ve tried to, as best as we can, get as many players in as early as possible for pre-season training, that’s something he really wants to do,” he said.

“When we’ve had that plan in place, it’s maybe not been brought in with emotion, trying to panic and try to change the plan you have in place.

“Of course you try and chase your primary targets, but when we go away in pre-season if you’ve got your main group together, you hope to make one or two additions later down the line.

“Some clubs operate differently, they hold their group and then fill up at the end, but this is the way we want to do it.”

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