Hull V Fulham at The KC Stadium : Match Preview

27 December 2013 01:31
Hull V Fulham - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Bruce bemoans hectic schedule

Hull manager Steve Bruce was left to bemoan the "ridiculous" festive fixture programme after his side were struck by injury problems at the worst possible time.

The Tigers won praise for their wholehearted performance against Manchester United on Boxing Day, taking a 2-0 lead inside just 13 minutes before eventually being reeled in as the champions ran out 3-2 winners.

And if the result was hard to take, the physical effect on Bruce's squad simply rubbed salt into the wounds.

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who collided with Ashley Young early on and never fully recovered, and in-form midfielder David Meyler both came off with knee injuries at half-time against United and appear to have no chance of taking part in Saturday's home clash with Fulham.

Alex Bruce finished the game but was not fully fit by the final whistle, while a number of other players carried on with knocks.

Having not won in five Barclays Premier League outings, Hull boss Bruce sees the visit of relegation battlers Fulham as a key fixture but could be forced to ring the changes.

"Both McGregor and Meyler have knee injuries," said Bruce.

"Meyler is a concern because it is the same knee he's injured before when he was out for a long time.

"McGregor's came from a challenge by Ashley Young that went unpunished. It looked late to me.

"He's got a nasty one. They'll both have X-rays and scans.

"Alex has a calf problem and there were one or two others with knocks at 90 minutes too.

"But we have to go again with this ridiculous schedule we have to play.

"Two games in 48's ridiculous when we have so much at stake, but we have to recover and be ready for Fulham."

Meanwhile, Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen believes being a Premier League-winning captain and working for such a long period under Sir Alex Ferguson are two reasons Hull counterpart Steve Bruce is a well-rounded manager.

Meulensteen, who also spent several years working as a coach under Ferguson at Manchester United, takes his Fulham side to Hull looking to move out of the bottom three after a vital Boxing Day victory at Norwich.

Bruce won three Premier League titles during a nine-year spell at Old Trafford and was always highly regarded by Ferguson before moving into management himself in 1998.

Since then he has had spells in charge of Birmingham, Wigan and Sunderland in the top flight before guiding Hull back in to the Barclays Premier League last season.

The Tigers sit 12th in the table after a 3-2 defeat at home to United on Boxing Day and Meulensteen feels Bruce's past experiences will continue to serve him well.

"Any manager that has worked or played under Sir Alex Ferguson will have remembered things that they will use," he said.

"I'm sure Steve will be no different at all, Sir Alex always wanted teams to play with a lot of endeavour and speed - you have to see what you have at your disposal but the intentions are there, you only have to look at Hull's 3-1 win over Liverpool.

"He has got his feet under the table in the Premier League, you have an experience of knowing how to play away at all the different grounds and it doesn't phase him any more.

"He has been there, seen it and done it, at different clubs and with different players - plus he has played in it himself which helps."

Meulensteen has reverted to playing Adel Taarabt as a lone forward in recent weeks to utilise his fit players as well as possible and believes Bruce is a master of chopping and changing his own side.

"I like Steve as a person and I know him really well, his transfers his charisma on to the pitch and into the players," he said.

"He has got them playing and isn't too afraid to experiment at times, with three at the back or the straight 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1.

"What you can always say about Steve Bruce's team is that they are generally well organised and have a good energy about them and he gives them the freedom to play as well."

The late win at Norwich came with important players such as Dimitar Berbatov, Maarten Stekelenburg and Brede Hangeland missing through injury.

With the packed festive fixture list throwing up another game just 48 hours later, most of those ruled out at Carrow Road will still be absent at Hull but Meulensteen remains hopeful Berbatov could play some part at he KC Stadium.

"There is a chance that Berbatov will return," he said.

Source: PA