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We can fight on two fronts - Bruce

17 Feb 2014 08:02:16

We can fight on two fronts - Bruce

Defender Alex Bruce insists Hull do not have to choose between an FA Cup run and Barclays Premier League survival.

The Tigers have spent the majority of the season in and around the halfway point in the league and despite lying 13th, they remain just three points clear of the relegation zone.

Manager Steve Bruce has consistently said survival is the primary goal of the season, but victories over Middlesbrough and Southend have taken his side within sight of the an FA Cup quarter-final.

To achieve that, they need to see off ambitious second-tier opposition in the form of Brighton on Monday night.

Bruce junior accepts the importance of retaining top-flight status but believes the club can successfully fight on two fronts.

"Obviously whenever you play you want to progress to the next stage, especially when you're in sight of a quarter-final," he said.

"The league is the most important thing but to have a chance of going to Wembley would be massive, the kind of thing you work hard for all your life.

"If we can stay up and do well in the cup that is the perfect situation. Teams take confidence out of winning football matches, regardless of if they are in the league or the cup.

"A win on Monday brings something you can take into the next league game, because it's about playing well and developing that winning habit."

Bruce also has a personal reason to defeat Brighton, with his own FA Cup CV in need of some improvement.

Father Steve was a three-time winner with Manchester United, but Alex has yet to come close in his own experiences with Birmingham, Oldham, Ipswich and Leeds.

"I've got a crap record in the FA Cup - fourth round, fifth round, never as far as a quarter-final," he said.

"This run with Hull is as good as it's been.

"If we can carry on there could be a fantastic occasion for everyone concerned."

The Tigers have made major changes for every cup match this season, in a bid to rest regulars and satisfy those short of game time.

That policy is expected to be eased somewhat against the Seagulls, with captain Curtis Davies expected to make his first appearance in the competition this season and the likes of Maynor Figueroa, Jake Livermore, Allan McGregor and Ahmed Elmohamady also due to start.

Definitely absent are January signings Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long, cup-tied with Everton and West Brom respectively.

In their stead Yannick Sagbo and Matty Fryatt will hope for a chance, while Sone Aluko should continue his comeback from four months of Achilles trouble at some stage in the game.

Brighton goalkeeper Peter Brezovan is keen to grasp with both hands any opportunity that comes his way on Monday night.

Despite being number two to Tomasz Kuszczak at the Amex Stadium, Brezovan has been drafted into the Seagulls' starting XI for both of their previous FA Cup victories this term over Reading and Port Vale.

And Brezovan hopes to show what he is capable of should he again get the nod from head coach Oscar Garcia against the Tigers.

"It is probably the most famous domestic cup in the world but any cup competition is good for players who don't always play in the league," he told the club's official website.

"The players can show the manager what they can do and it's a great opportunity to impress.

"I've played a few games this season but obviously for any player it's disappointing when you're not in the team, but if you have an opportunity to play a game then it's always great."

Slovakian Brezovan, formerly at Swindon, joined Brighton in 2009 on an initial short-term deal before tying up an extended stay on the south coast.

Injury to former Manchester United keeper Kuszczak over December saw him step in between the sticks for four Sky Bet Championship matches, his first taste of first-team football for over 12 months, before returning to the bench and duly waiting for his FA Cup calls.

But he insists the battle for the number one spot at Brighton between himself, Kuszczak and Casper Ankergren is a friendly one.

"I was happy with my performances, I hadn't played for a year so I was glad to get some game time," he said.

"It is hard as everyone wants to play but Tomasz has played very well and for the team it is great how he has been playing.

"It is a competition but if you asked Casper he would probably say the same as me. Tomasz has big value and maybe he will play, he is great keeper but we have to fight for the spot."


PA

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