Belfast Telegraph

Bruce hits back at Stoke

Hull boss Steve Bruce has hit back at Stoke after a gory picture emerged of a bloody gash in Stephen Ireland's leg following a challenge by Tigers defender Maynor Figueroa.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes claimed the challenge could have ended Ireland's career and that Figueroa should have been sent off - the injury needed 12 to 15 stitches.

Bruce, speaking ahead of Hull's home match against Sunderland, disputed that claim and insisted it was Ireland himself who should have been given his marching orders for an earlier challenge.

He said: "Let me tell you, Stephen Ireland committed the worst challenge on the pitch on Davd Meyler. He shouldn't have been on the pitch if the referee had done his job. It was an awful challenge.

"I could show you a picture of Figueroa's ankle, he had five stitches in it and carried on. Nobody wants to see a cut or an injury as bad as Stephen Ireland had but unfortunately in football it happens.

"Everybody is wearing the boots called blades and the challenge on Ireland he's kicked the ball and followed through and unfortunately has caught his leg.

"At the time nobody went to the referee, he didn't award a free-kick - it wasn't a free-kick but one of those horrible ones where he's followed through and caught the boy on the calf rather than planted the boot on him."

Bruce's Hull entertain Sunderland on Tuesday night with the Tigers boss enjoying the whip hand over his former club, where fans made much of his tenure a misery due to his Newcastle affiliations.

Hull have won all four matches against the Black Cats under Bruce and a fifth would see the Tigers open up a four-point gap over their rivals that would do much to help their climb away from the relegation zone.

Bruce admitted: "It is a pivotal game. Our better goal difference would mean it is the equivalent of five points and would give us a good cushion above the bottom three."

Hull will need to add some firepower after failing to manage a shot on target against Stoke, but should have Nikica Jelavic back after he missed the last match with a flare-up of his nagging knee problem.

"We were disappointed with the whole team going forward against Stoke," added Bruce. "I don't think we were adventurous enough, but I can't remember my keeper making a save either. It was one of those awful, horrible games where the paying public was probably bored out of their pants but that happens sometimes."

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