Belfast Telegraph

Bruce wary of Tigers' painful past

Hull manager Steve Bruce has warned his side to heed the lessons of the past as they look to build on their impressive start to life in the Barclays Premier League.

The Tigers have thus far defied pre-season expectations, picking up 10 points from their first six matches since promotion to lie eighth in the table.

But while Bruce might be forgiven for getting carried away with that return, he is mindful of what happened to his friend and predecessor Phil Brown when he led Hull to the top flight for the 2008/09 campaign.

Hull's season started even better then, with six wins from their first nine outings, but the bubble burst in dramatic fashion and they survived the drop by a single point before relegation the following season.

Bruce's aim is to improve on that and he is well aware of what has gone before.

"We have made a wonderful start, but that's all it is," he said ahead of Saturday's home match against Aston Villa.

"If someone had said to me we'd have 10 points from the first six games I wouldn't have thought that was possible to be honest.

"But the history of our club the last time we were here is that we did great until Christmas and the following 18 months after that must have been torture, agony.

"So we've had a good start - really good - but we've only played six games and there are 32 more to go."

One problem that could easily derail Bruce's plans is a run of injuries.

Hull's squad is far from the deepest in the division and they have already lost captain Robert Koren (fractured foot), defender James Chester (hamstring) and four-goal top-scorer Robbie Brady (hernia).

Republic of Ireland international Brady only underwent surgery on Wednesday night but is likely to be the first one back in around four weeks.

"We've lost another one this week in Robbie, so we've played six and lost three to injury... we need a bit more luck in that department," said Bruce.

"Robbie has been complaining of pain now for four, five, six weeks. It's been grumbling away at him and it got to a situation after last Saturday that it was too sore to train, so we thought 'let's get it done'.

"It was a case of needs must: the quicker it's done, the quicker he's back on the pitch."

The gap created by Brady's absence will be filled by one of George Boyd or Stephen Quinn, two of the promotion-winning squad who have seen limited game time since a busy summer transfer window.

Elsewhere, Paul McShane is now considered match fit after making his return to the bench last week.

He will come into consideration at centre-half as Bruce ponders whether to keep faith with veteran Abdoulaye Faye.

Faye replaced Chester to good effect in the 1-0 win over West Ham last weekend, but against Villa's youthful, counter-attacking side the 35-year-old may find himself overlooked for fresher legs.

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