Bolton Wanderers v Hull City - ‘I would rather have my squad than anyone else’s’ insists Tigers boss Steve Bruce

Abel Hernandez, front, has been praised by manager Steve Bruce for his recent form.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Abel Hernandez, front, has been praised by manager Steve Bruce for his recent form. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
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STEVE BRUCE would not swap his Hull City squad for any other in the Championship heading into the play-offs.

The Tigers travel to already-relegated Bolton Wanderers looking to cement fourth place in the table and home advantage in the semi-finals second leg.

Hull City manager, Steve Bruce.
  Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Hull City manager, Steve Bruce. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Victory at the Macron in the lunchtime kick-off would leave Derby County needing to not only win their last two games but also overcome a superior goal difference.

The Rams, of course, have beaten Hull twice this season with an aggregate score of 6-0 in favour of the Midlands club.

Despite that, Bruce is adamant that the Tigers can be a match for anyone once the play-offs get under way.

“We have got a really, really good squad,” Bruce told The Yorkshire Post. “I have said that from day one.

“We don’t fear anyone in this division. We have beaten Middlesbrough and Burnley convincingly this season.

“Yes, we have also let ourselves down occasionally. But I would rather have my squad than anyone else’s going into the play-offs.

“To me, it is all to play for. You need a bit of luck in the play-offs, the bounce of the ball. You also need all the energy of everyone around this city can muster because we are going into a series of huge games, the sort we all want to be involved in – whether you are the manager, a player or supporter.”

City make the trip along the M62 buoyed by a five-game unbeaten run that, crucially, has seen Abel Hernandez return to goal-scoring form.

Having gone nine appearances and the best part of two months without finding the net, the club record signing has bagged three in his last four outings.

“It is no coincidence that Abel being back in the goals has seen us start to get results again,” said Bruce. “Maybe going away for the international break did help him. Certainly, he has come back looking much more lively.

“I took the decision to leave him out (against Bristol City and Derby immediately after the Easter international break), thinking that in the past after being away with Uruguay that he has come back for one game and been lively but then struggled. He is then exhausted for a month.

“This time, we did it the other way round – and we know what a big player Abel is for us, his loss of form coincided with our bad run. That was disappointing and frustrating. But he has 20 goals now. That is a fantastic return from any strikers.”