Football - Bruce aiming to stay out of trouble

Steve Bruce wants his Hull side to "stay with it" as the battle for Barclays Premier League survival intensifies.

PA Sport Report

When City beat Fulham 6-0 on December 28, the word relegation could not have been further from the minds of those at the KC Stadium.

A winless and goalless January in the Premier League has sharpened minds, though, and Tottenham will arrive in East Yorkshire on Saturday to face a side with just one win from their last 10 top-flight games.

Narrow defeats at Norwich and Crystal Palace have not helped, but Bruce, a veteran of several dogfights over the years, is keeping a cool head.

"It's a quite unique sort of season. The top four have record points and there aren't two teams running away with it and two teams cut off," he said.

"So there are 10 clubs in it; I'm sure from Southampton downwards you're looking over your shoulder.

"We're one of them. We've had a really tough run of late, we always knew something was round the corner in the Premier League and we would have been naive to think we wouldn't have a bad patch.

"I still think we've got to win four or five games, and if we do that I think we'll be safe.

"We have some big games and need to simply win one or two of them. We have to stay with it."

Bruce was clearly wounded by the 1-0 loss to Palace, which came at an even greater cost with goalkeeper Allan McGregor being sent off late on.

He will be unable to face Spurs, nor will midfielder Jake Livermore, who is on loan from White Hart Lane.

Bruce has denied Livermore is being recalled by his parent club and spoke about the situation with an assurance he has maintained throughout the January transfer window.

Having signed strikers Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long a fortnight ago, his business has long been done and, barring the possible departures of Danny Graham - himself a Sunderland loanee - and Jack Hobbs, Bruce is pleased to have got everything completed in good time.

"I expect to be quiet. I've said for 10 days or so we've done what we wanted to do, we've brought in the two strikers. That always was our aim and we are very, very pleased with what we've done so far. I couldn't have asked for any more," he said.

With McGregor suspended, Steve Harper will start in goal, while Stephen Quinn should replace Livermore in midfield.

Bruce saw his side narrowly beaten the last time they played Tottenham - a hotly-debated penalty winning it - but it will be a different Spurs side that take to the field on Saturday.

Tim Sherwood has replaced Andre Villas-Boas at the helm and brought with him a new, all-out attacking style which has served him relatively well so far.

The system failed in a 5-1 loss to Manchester City on Wednesday, but Bruce is reading little into that.

"Anybody who plays Manchester City loses 5-1 or 4-1," he said.

"There's nothing new there and we see how Manchester City are so strong and they're blowing the league away at the moment. There's no shame in that.

"We know Spurs have some outstanding players and are making a fist of getting in the top four.

"I'm delighted Tim has been given an opportunity. It makes a refreshing change to see a young English coach getting a chance and let's hope it continues."

Jelavic and Long are set for their home debuts and Robbie Brady (groin) is in contention as Hull go in search of a first home win over Tottenham since October 1977.

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