Belfast Telegraph

Jelavic agonising over miss

Hull manager Steve Bruce revealed top-scorer Nikica Jelavic was "beating himself up" over his miss-of-the-season contender against Leicester.

The Croatian striker has found the net eight times this season, twice as many as nearest challenger Mohamed Diame, but fluffed a golden opportunity in Saturday's goalless draw at the King Power Stadium.

In a match that suggested neither of the relegation strugglers would be out of place in the Sky Bet Championship, Hull managed a rare moment of quality in the 20th minute.

Tom Huddlestone's chip over the top and Ahmed Elmohamady's first-time pass off the instep were both perfectly executed but when Jelavic was left with a regulation finish from close range he fluffed his connection completely.

"Jelavic has won us so many games since he's been with us over the last year but that's one of those awful ones he's beating himself up over," said Bruce, whose side held on for 19 minutes after Huddlestone was sent off.

"It was a big, big game for both clubs and you could see the nerves. We had the clear-cut chances but it was not to be.

"It's another point gained, and we all have different opinions of how many we'll need, but it's another one towards safety."

Leicester lie bottom of the table and seven points away from survival after the stalemate.

With victories now becoming absolutely essential for a side who have won just four times all season, the failure to put away Hull after Huddlestone's red card could come back to haunt them.

Midfielder Matty James could not hide his own frustration and knows an improvement is needed soon.

"We're a little bit disappointed we didn't get three points. We all know the current situation and we have to start putting points on the board," he told Foxes Player.

"It's always important not to lose but we're also getting to the point where we need to start winning.

"It's two points dropped for us so we've got to try and win the next one and hopefully try and kick on.

"It was difficult, Hull set up and made it difficult from the start and got men behind the ball. When they went to 10 men they retreated, which is what you do with 10 men, and we created one or two chances but it just didn't drop for us."

Elsewhere, Bruce poured cold water on Robbie Brady's hopes of linking up with the Republic of Ireland later this month.

The winger has been named in a provisional squad for the March 29 game against Poland but Bruce is certain he will not be fit.

"He won't be available for Ireland, no chance of that," said the Tigers boss.

"He's got a nasty tear of his calf. he's jogging slightly but not trained with any force at all.

"He had a 9cm tear of his calf so that's six weeks out and it's now two and a half. I can't see him being ready."

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