STEVE BRUCE will have no qualms about throwing Harry Maguire into Hull City’s potentially season-defining run of festive games.
The Tigers are locked in a relegation battle after the weekend saw the club’s winless run extended to 10 games.
A Boxing Day trip to Sunderland is followed two days later by the visit of rock-bottom Leicester City to the KC Stadium before a home clash with Everton on New Year’s Day rounds off the holiday period.
With Hull being two points adrift of safety, throwing in a relative rookie – Maguire has started just one game, in the Europa League qualifiers, since his £2.5m move from Sheffield United in the summer – could be seen as a major risk.
But Bruce is adamant that the 21-year-old will, if needed at the Stadium of Light, rise to the occasion.
He said: “That is why we have brought him here, to play.
“In an ideal world we would like to blood him in a winning team, but we think he is a really fine young player.
“He showed that when he came on (for the final 13 minutes against Swansea last Saturday). I thought he did particularly well in that time.
“I would have no hesitation putting him in the team.
“He’s all I’ve got but he’s a defender we think can do well for us.
“There was 16 or 17 (outfield players) available for us at the weekend.
“The only person I didn’t include at the weekend was (Paul) McShane.
“All the rest of the squad were either injured or suspended.”
Hull’s scarcity of options in the wake of so many first-choice players being ruled out yesterday saw Tom Ince and Maynor Figueroa recalled from their respective loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Wigan Athletic.
The duo will go straight into the squad to face Sunderland as Bruce continues to weigh up his options as Jake Livermore joins Tom Huddlestone in being suspended and Hull sweat over the fitness of defenders Alex Bruce and captain Curtis Davies.
Bruce, who has frozen Paul McShane after an apparent difference of opinion with the defender, added: “Alex has got a calf injury and Curtis his shin. We will not know until we have had them looked at.
“Curtis’s injury looks a bad one, but we will just have to wait and see how it is.”