George Boateng believes Hull could have avoided relegation from the Barclays Premier League had influential winger Stephen Hunt not suffered a season-ending injury in the latter half of the campaign.
Hunt, voted Hull's player of the season, contributed six goals to the Tigers' cause following his arrival from Reading last summer but his absence was keenly felt during the run-in after suffering a foot injury in February. The Republic of Ireland international underwent surgery on the problem last month but it came too late to save Hull's top-flight status.
"When you look at the man who won the player of the season award, Stephen Hunt, he scored six goals and when he wasn't playing towards the end, the team wasn't the same," Boateng told Hull's official website, www.hullcityafc.net. "If he hadn't got injured, another six goals would maybe have got us the points we needed to be safe. However those are the things you can't control."
Boateng, who finished as runner-up to Hunt in the club's player of the year awards, added that despite the heartbreak of relegation after two seasons among England's elite, the future is looking bright for Hull.
Although the financial footing of the club remains uncertain, the emergence of young players such as midfielder Will Atkinson and striker Mark Cullen towards the end of the season has raised hopes of a competitive Coca-Cola Championship campaign next term.
With defender Liam Cooper and Tom Cairney, who started several games in midfield last season, also set to feature prominently in the future, Boateng believes there is every reason for optimism.
He added: "It's a shame that we couldn't have had a more positive outcome this season. We've all made mistakes along the way, but I hope we can put that behind us now because the club should be concentrating on the future.
"We have some good young players coming through and a few more about to come on the scene. With good management, they could become very important in a promotion campaign.
"We had a good mix of young and experienced players towards the end of the season."
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