Tottenham Hotspur vs Hull City isn't a fixture you'd look out for when the fixture list is announced at the start of the season, that is, except for the four Hull City players returning to White Hart Lane tomorrow night. The Tigers have developed something of a penchant of picking up Tottenham fringe players in recent years, and at least 3 Spurs men are likely to start against Mauricio Pochettino's men tomorrow night.
Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore were the first of Hull's current ex-Tottenham contingent to arrive at the KCOM Stadium, Huddlestone signing for a fee in the region of £5.5 million and Livermore originally joining Steve Bruce's men on a season long loan deal. The pair both had terrific first seasons, and some questioned Tottenham's decision to let them go.
Livermore made his loan move a permanent one the following summer, with Michael Dawson following close behind. The last of the quartet to arrive was Ryan Mason, who became the Tigers record signing this year, but is yet to make a real impact in East Yorkshire. Ahead of Hull's trip to White Hart Lane, we assess all four former Tottenham men on their return to north London.
Tom Huddlestone celebrates with Assou Ekotto after scoring for Tottenham
Tom Huddlestone's debut season at the KCOM Stadium was largely very impressive, particularly up until Christmas. The England international brought a calmness and a touch of class to the newly-promoted Tigers midfield, and was immediately hailed by many supporters as the most technically gifted player to don the black and amber shirt since at least Jay-Jay Okocha's 2008 cameos.
Those high levels weren't maintained though, with Huddlestone looking sluggish at times during the Tigers relegation season and often finding him on the bench last term when Hull won promotion from the Championship. Whilst games can pass him by in a two-man central midfield, he has far more influence in a 3-5-2 with runners either side of him. That was the way Hull City lined up against Crystal Palace, and if they do so again tomorrow night, Huddlestone will be a key man.
Jake Livermore in action for Spurs vs Fulham
In terms of form over the course of their Hull City career, it was much the same for Livermore as Huddlestone, at least in the first couple of years. Very dependable during his season on-loan for Steve Bruce, his performances convinced the Tigers that he was worth £8 million. Livermore's displays the following season suggested Daniel Levy may have worked his magic once more, but we now know external factors played a large part in the midfielder's downturn in form.
The 27-year-old came back in a big way in the Championship for Hull City though. Now very well-built, Livermore is capable of being an all-action midfielder, and along with Sam Clucas, his running can allow Huddlestone much more freedom in a 3-5-2. Livermore scored a cracker against Tottenham in late 2014 and scored at the weekend against Crystal Palace. A definite starter tomorrow night; he'll be hoping to get on the scoresheet once more against his former club.
Michael Dawson applauds Hull City fans after defeat at Bournemouth
A former Tottenham Hotspur Player of the Year, Michael Dawson played 324 games for Spurs over the course of 9 years at White Hart Lane, and he was appointed club captain following Ledley King's retirement. A favourite at the Lane, Daws has been very good since joining Hull City in 2014. The centre-back is now 33 years old, and niggling injuries have become a regular feature of his game over the last couple of years, but the Tigers are a better team when he starts.
At first, Dawson appeared to have difficulties playing alongside Curtis Davies. The two senior pros are both vocal leaders, and a personality clash was hinted at by some. That didn't seem to be the case last season though, the two defending well together in the Championship, and Dawson has been generally solid this season too, despite an unfortunate own goal away at Watford. Daws will most likely play in a back 3 alongside Curtis Davies and Harry Maguire tomorrow night.
Ryan Mason celebrates with Erik Lamela during pre-season at Tottenham
Another man who wore the Tottenham captain's armband, although far less frequently than that of Dawson, was Ryan Mason. Born in Enfield, Mason joined the Spurs academy at 8, and went on to make 70 appearances for the Lilywhites in all competitions. The England midfielder became Hull City's record signing in the summer following a £13 million switch to the KCOM Stadium, and it's fair to say he has not yet lived up to that price tag.
£13 million always seemed steep for Mason, who was a tidy but not spectacular midfielder at White Hart Lane, and many Hull City fans remain unconvinced. In Mason's defence, he has been played wide left on occasion by Mike Phelan, a position that is not suited to him and he is quite clearly uncomfortable there. Currently out of the Tigers starting XI, it's still early days for the 25-year-old at Hull City, but fans will be looking for more of an impact should he feature against his former club.