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Honeyman relishing first return to Sunderland

4 September 2020

George Honeyman can't wait for the action in 2020/21 to start with what will be his first trip back to Sunderland at the weekend.

Honeyman joined the Wearside club at the age of ten, progressing through the ranks at the Academy of Light and featuring at under-18 and under-23 level before making his senior debut in 2015 against Bradford City.

Two years later, the 25-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough campaign before going on to make 97 appearances and scoring 17 goals in red and white, while also leading the club to Wembley on two occasions prior to signing for the Tigers last August.

On his first return to the Stadium of Light…
My first reaction (after the draw) was just pleased that I would get another weekend at home – it was the perfect draw for me! It’s a great draw for the Club as well, but I’m just gutted it’s going to be an empty stadium. I would’ve loved to have gone back to a full Stadium of Light because – when it’s full – it’s a great atmosphere.

It’s going to be bizarre going back because obviously I was at the club from a very young age. I’ve never played against Sunderland and it will be special for me and my family. But, as much as I want to go there and have a good game, it’s not about me. It’s about us – Hull City – trying to progress in the cup and start the season on a positive note.

On the challenge of facing Sunderland…
Sunderland are going to be one of the teams challenging in and around the top end of League One this season, so it will be a great test for us to go there in the Carabao Cup on the opening day. Obviously the current manager wasn’t there when I was at the club and I believe they’ve changed their style of play a little bit from when I was there.

I still know most of the boys there, though. They’re good lads and are going to be tough opposition. Even though it’s a cup tie, it’s a chance for both teams to try and put a marker down for the rest of the season. It’s always going to be a big game between these two teams and a good game to be involved in. Going to the Stadium of Light – one of the best stadiums in the country – on the opening day of the season, the boys are looking forward to it. It’s a great test to start with and we can’t wait.

On the mood in the camp…
It’s good. We’ve got plenty of belief in the squad. We believe we’ve got a really good group. We’ve had a really good pre-season and the new lads that have come in have been brilliant, which has helped to develop a positive culture and style in which we want the team to play.

Pre-season has been really good but once you’ve been back for a week or two, you just want to get back out playing and winning football games. It’s quite nice that it’s been such a short turnaround and, like everyone in the group, I’m just raring to go and can’t wait to get started.

We’ve been back in for just over three weeks now, so we just want to get cracking with the games now and starting proving that now. It’s easy to say all the right things, but we want to show people what we can do and put everything we’ve worked on into action on the pitch.

On the new boys…
I’ve been really pleased with how the Club has recruited. They all look like very good players but, more importantly, they all seem like great characters – and that is something we really needed as a squad. The gaffer and the recruitment team have brought in some really good lads – players that can make a difference at this level and are good enough to help us achieve our goals this year.

On the hectic schedule ahead…
The season is going to be Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday – three games a week for the majority of the campaign – so it’s something that we’re going to have to get used to. But, if you get into that all-important winning habit, you just want games to come all the time. So with the busy fixture list in mind, it could be the best season ever.

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