Belfast Telegraph

Bruce: Tigers can bounce back

Steve Bruce is sure his Hull squad are capable of bouncing back from their Europa League exit with a positive result at Aston Villa.

The Tigers' maiden continental campaign ended with a play-off defeat by Lokeren on Thursday, when they exited on away goals despite a 2-1 win at the KC Stadium.

Hopes were high of some big European nights in the group stage and beyond, but the focus now turns firmly back to the Barclays Premier League and securing a third season in the top flight.

Bruce was clearly frustrated to have departed the draw at such an early stage, but Sunday's visit to Villa Park offers a chance to get back on track.

"No mistake we're disappointed but that's football. It's not to be so we move on," said Bruce.

"The one thing we are is a resilient mob, the players will come back in, dust themselves down and get ready for Villa.

"We've had a difficult start with the four European games, that's four games more than anyone else in a short space of time, but now we get on with Sunday and hope we can get a result."

Bruce will be left wondering whether he balanced his squad correctly against Lokeren, having made nine changes from his league side in the away defeat and six more for the must-win return fixture.

But he is unapologetic for shuffling his pack and effectively prioritising the weekend matches.

"I made the nine changes in Belgium, but if I hadn't have made those nine changes I'm not so sure we'd have taken a point against Stoke last weekend," he said.

"Of course in hindsight you look at it and leave yourself open to criticism, but that was the way forward for me. We've won the game here so the biggest disappointment was the way we lost in Belgium really, where individual error cost us."

Hull full-back Liam Rosenior was quick to say sorry to fans on the squad's behalf for having not delivered more overseas adventures.

But the 29-year-old also raised the prospect of once again defying expectations by qualifying for another European campaign.

"We gave it everything we had and all the lads are devastated that we're now out of Europe," said Rosenior.

"It was a great experience over the four games and it was great to see so many fans come on the journey with us - home and away.

"I can only apologise to the fans that there won't be any more European football for them to watch this season.

"However, with the way that the club is growing, the signs are positive and I think we will experience European football again.

"Hopefully we can do well in the cups and earn the right to have another crack at Europe in the not too distant future."

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