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Hull captain Curtis Davies has admitted his club desperately need to strengthen in the January transfer window if they are to stand any chance of surviving in the Premier League.
And Davies believes his side are still suffering from the behind-the-scenes chaos at the start of the season which denied Phelan enough time to properly plan for the campaign ahead.
Davies told his club’s official website: “We made signings in the window and they have come in and done their bit but because they were all left until the last minute I don’t believe the manager had enough time to explore all his options.
“Our first shot on target was in the 92nd minute which is not good enough. It’s hard but we have to deal with it, we have to keep going and we have a big game against Crystal Palace at the weekend.”
Hull’s defeat to a rare second-half header from former Tigers midfielder Gaston Ramirez was particularly galling for Davies given it left them firmly rooted in the relegation zone while Boro – whom they would have overhauled with a win – jumped to 13th.
Boro boss Aitor Karanka described the result as “massive” for his side, while midfielder Adam Clayton said it ranked higher than recent gutsy points earned at clubs fighting at the other end of the table.
Clayton told Boro’s official website: “It’s more important than Manchester City or Arsenal away. It’s even bigger to get the points at home against teams who will probably be fighting relegation, and I think we can really kick on now.
“Three points in this league is massive and if you can get them it can change everything. Now we are in a good position to go to Southampton (on Sunday) and put on a good performance and see what we can get.”