When Mallik Wilks dropped down to League One with Hull City last summer, the former Leeds United youngster didn’t have to look too far for inspiration.
After all, just five months before Wilks brought an end to his lifelong association with the Whites of West Yorkshire, Jarrod Bowen was swapping humble Humberside for the glitz and glamour of the capital, joining West Ham for a cool £20 million.
If Bowen could catch the eye of Premier League scouts after a prolific campaign at the KCom, then Wilks can surely do the same.
While the top flight is still a mere dot on the horizon, with Hull’s focus firmly fixed on securing a return to the Championship after last season’s relegation, it surely won’t be long before Wilks is taking Bowen’s route to the top.
Less than a month after netting his first career hat-trick in a 5-0 dismantling of Wigan, Wilks broke the 20-goal barrier for the first time in his career on Tuesday night.
The landmark strike might not have been the sort of laser-guided, long-range finish Hull fans have become accustomed to from their Leeds-born talisman but it was no less important; a cooly-taken penalty in a 3-1 win at Peterborough which lifted Grant McCann’s team above the Posh into top spot.
Only Jonson Clarke-Harris and Charlie Wyke have scored more third-tier goals than Wilks in 2020/21.
“Mallik’s in good form and training well,” said Hull boss Grant McCann, who also got the best out of the enigmatic forward during a 2018/19 loan spell at Doncaster Rovers.
“Although he’s going to be highlighted for the goals he’s scored in the last five games, his form has been good all season. He’s in a rich vein of form at the minute and he looks even more dangerous.
“He’s a big player for us and has been since he came to the football club. He’s hungry for more goals. That’s what he’s about. He just wants to score goals.”
Wilks’ clinical finishing skills once made him the jewel of Leeds United’s academy.
And, some 60 miles to the east, one of the Football League’s most promising forwards is finally making good on his undoubted potential at Hull.
This Tiger is earning his stripes.