STEVE BRUCE insists Hull City’s most important work in January will be done by getting his injured stars fit rather than by making signings in the transfer window.
The Tigers ended 2014 on a low as bottom club Leicester City ended a 13-game winless run with a 1-0 triumph at the KC Stadium.
Hull were unfortunate to lose, Bruce’s men hitting a post twice in a pulsating final quarter that saw both teams reduced to 10 men.
The bottom line, however, is that Hull lost for the 21st time in 37 league games this year and the Yorkshire club now sit outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.
Asked if he was planning any additions come the new year, Bruce, who spent almost £50m in the two 2014 windows, said: “The big thing that needs changing in the new year is I have six big players not playing. They would all arguably be in the team.
“So, we need a bit of luck in that department. If there is someone out there who can make a difference to us then I will always knock on the door (of chairman Assem Allam).
“But I need my players fit. I have had too many, since day one, that have been injured. That has affected us.”
Hull went into yesterday’s clash without either suspended duo Tom Huddlestone and James Chester or injured quartet Robert Snodgrass, Mohamed Diame, Andrew Robertson and Michael Dawson.
Robertson may be back against Everton on New Year’s Day, but the Tigers will be without Stephen Quinn following his late dismissal yesterday for denying David Nugent a run on goal with a deliberate handball.
Bruce added: “Without Huddlestone, Dawson and Diame – those in particular are big players for our club at this level. Unfortunately, they have been missing for a long time. Throw Snodgrass into the mix then you can understand how frustrating it is.”
On a game that saw Riyad Mahrez open the scoring for Leicester before Hull then laid siege to the visitors’ goal, as Jake Livermore and Abel Hernandez hit the same post and countless other chances went begging, Bruce said: “It was frustrating.
“We have been in the Premier League now for 18, 19 months and I can’t remember having so many chances in a game, not at this level.
“We hit the post twice, had the ball cleared off the line three or four times. It turned into one of those afternoons where we didn’t deserve to get beat.
“But the one thing you have to do is score, whether we were a bit unlucky or should have taken those chances. The only shot they had at our goal went in.”
Hull’s defeat meant 2014 will end with Bruce’s men having won just three of 18 league games on home soil. It is form that has to change or the risk is that Hull’s hopes of an unprecedented third consecutive season in the top flight will be thwarted.
Bruce added: “That (record) is the biggest disappointment of them all. Last year our home form was what got us out of trouble.
“Away from home, in general, we have done well this season. There have been one or two iffy performances but results have been okay.
“It is at home, though, where the expectation is on you and we have not got the results. Teams now show us the respect of being in the division and you have to create the chances. You have to go out and open yourself up.
“Against Leicester, though, I would say it wasn’t about that. We made enough chances, we simply couldn’t score from them.
“There is a frustration among the crowd because they haven’t seen us win enough (at the KC).
“But I have to say the support towards the end was fantastic. They gave their utmost to help us get a goal.”
Asked about the magnitude of the result, Bruce added: “If we had won, to go nine points ahead of Leicester at the halfway stage would have taken a lot of clawing back. In terms of magnitude of result, it would have been huge.
“But it went against us and Leicester have a lifeline. The whole thing has concertinaed again, but we look forward to the second half of the season.”
In contrast to Bruce’s dejected mood, Nigel Pearson was able to enjoy his return to a club he managed for 16 months.
Asked if it felt that bit more satisfying that Leicester’s 13-game winless run had been ended against his former employer, Pearson replied: “There is a lot made of all this, but regardless of what anyone thinks, I actually enjoyed my time here.”
He added: “It was lovely to see a lot of people who are still here from my time here, nice to say hello. I am not going to start gloating because we won. We needed to win because we needed to win.”