Hull want reinforcements for Europe

08 August 2014 12:31

Steve Bruce is itching to add more "quality" to his Hull side ahead of a continental showdown with Lokeren - but the resurgence of super-sub Sone Aluko will certainly ease his concerns.

Later this month, the Tigers will battle the Belgian Cup winners for a place in the Europa League group stage after Aluko's late winner fired Hull into the play-off round at the expense of AS Trencin on Thursday night.

City had to do things the hard way at a sold-out KC Stadium.

Tomas Malec's early opener meant the hosts had to score twice to progress and although Ahmed Elmohamady levelled before the break, Hull looked like exiting the competition on the away goals rule until Aluko stepped off the bench to volley home an 80th-minute winner and give them a 2-1 victory.

The striker's career at Hull has been disrupted by injury but he is now part of a fully-fit squad and firing ahead of Premier League and European commitments.

Manager Bruce was "delighted" to see the player he coached at Birmingham return to goalscoring ways but remains concerned that City are lacking strength in depth.

"I'll always be knocking on the door," he said. "I don't think any manager is ever finished and the day I say no is the day I may as well pack it in.

"We're looking to improve. I had five people not stripped today - (Harry) Maguire, (Andrew) Robertson, (Nikica) Jelavic, (Maynor) Figueroa and (George) Boyd.

"So we've got healthy competition all round, but if there's a bit of quality then I'll try."

Referring to his match-winner Aluko, Bruce added: "Sone has looked the best I've seen him in seven years, physically.

"He pulled up in training a couple of days ago and was a little bit stiff with all the work he's done so I'm delighted that he's been able to score a goal.

"We all know - the people of Hull who've seen him - that he's got terrific ability so let's hope he stays injury-free because he's going to be a big player for us if he does."

Bruce made sure to pay tribute to plucky Trencin who, after forcing a goalless draw back in Slovakia, grabbed the initiative at the KC and went close to doubling their lead before Elmohamady equalised.

Martin Sevela's club - owned by former Holland international Tschen La Ling - were only 10 minutes from knocking Hull out when Aluko called time on their European dream.

Bruce added: "When you play against teams from Slovakia some would think it's a given, but they've got some good players and they've had a meteoric rise over the past few years and they're a good side.

"With a couple of Brazilians, a couple of Nigerians and a Dutch influence in there too, they're a good side."

Visiting coach Sevela admitted his players had found the Tigers' pace too hot to handle.

The retired defender could take nothing away from his team's fearless efforts, though.

He said: "In the second half the tempo was so, so fast, it was so different from our league and we're not used to it.

"We had a few chances but obviously after we conceded another goal our chances weren't as good so we weren't able to attack as much as we wanted.

"It was a great experience for all the team to have played in such a game and against such players. We really enjoyed the experience and the stadium was full.

"For some of our players it was the first time they had experienced this but I'm very glad that they weren't scared and I'm proud of my team.

"I hope that, if we keep playing like this, we will have a very successful future."

Hull next travel to Lokeren on August 21 before hosting the Belgians in the second leg on August 28.

Source: PA

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