Bruce all set to unleash Snodgrass and Ince in bid to take next step

STEVE BRUCE is ready to unleash big money summer signings, Robert Snodgrass and Tom Ince, when Hull City return to European action this week.

Hull City's Robert Snodgrass.
Hull City's Robert Snodgrass.

The Tigers were held to a goalless draw in Slovakia by FK AS Trencin in last Thursday’s first leg.

City just about shaded the contest and should have claimed a precious first-leg lead only for Tom Huddlestone to miss not only a second-half penalty but also the follow-up.

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It means there will be all to play for at the KC Stadium this Thursday, especially with away goals possibly coming into the equation due to Hull having failed to find the net in Zilina.

With that in mind, Bruce is set to hand first starts to both Snodgrass and Ince after leaving the pair on the bench in the first leg.

He said: “I decided that the boys who got us into Europe deserved their chance. They should have a chance to play, a bit like I did with Chelsea last season on the first day (when Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore started on the bench).

“All the boys who got us out of the Championship deserved to play in that first game.

“I had to make decisions in Slovakia. I had four players at home – Robbie Brady, Maynor Figueroa and the two new boys (Harry Maguire and Andrew Robertson, who both signed after the deadline for the third qualifying round so are ineligible).

“I even had to leave players like Stephen Quinn out of the squad in Slovakia. We have a bit of competition for places.

“I then brought the new lads (Snodgrass and Ince) on and they certainly did enough to suggest they deserve a start.”

The guile of Snodgrass and Ince’s pace could be useful attacking weapons on Thursday, as City go in search of a win that would put them through to the play-off round.

In the first meeting between the two clubs, City looked lacklustre and lacked match sharpness – something that was not a surprise due to the squad only just being a little over halfway through pre-season training.

Trencin, in contrast, had already played twice in Europe, while their league season is also a couple of weeks old.

Bruce added: “It was always going to be difficult, I said in the build-up that whatever team you play when it is your own pre-season, it is going to be tough. The one thing you have to do is take the chances when they come your way. And, unfortunately, we didn’t do that.

“We had one or two great opportunities and if we had taken them then the second leg would be that bit more comfortable. But, overall, we’ll be better next time for having played this game. That was our first competitive game and it showed.

“But we kept a clean sheet and that’s the positive for us. We’ll look forward to the second leg. We needed a game like that.

“You have to pay them respect. You don’t finish high up the league like they have without being a good team. They have a couple of Brazilians and a couple of Nigerians – and we have to respect them.

“Slovakian teams are always very good technically. Trenic were that, as we expected them to be. And they have got one or two dangerous players on the counter-attack.

“But, certainly, we will be better for that first game.“

On Huddlestone’s penalty being saved and the subsequent rebound being fired over via the crossbar by the one-time record signing, Bruce added: “We have all missed penalties and all made mistakes. We have all missed big chances in front of goal. You don’t intentionally do it.

“You would have put your house on Tom Huddlestone scoring but he didn’t. I think that is the last three or four (penalties) that we have missed so we better start practising because at the minute we are not very good.

“Plus, from where I was sat it looked easier to score from the rebound.”

Last week was Hull’s first foray into European competition and Bruce insists that despite the disappointing game, the experience was one that has left everyone at the club hungry for more.

The City manager added: “We have all enjoyed the experience. I think most of the supporters who I bumped into on the day of the match had enjoyed it.

“Fair play to them. Some have been to four different countries on trains to get there. They had made a real effort to get there but the main thing is that they have enjoyed themselves.

“It would have been nice to come back with a victory from a game which I thought we edged but overall it’s been a wonderful experience for us all.

“We’re at home next time and we’ll be better physically. We have had a bit of competition now and we will put some work in and look forward to the second leg.

“The big thing with all of us is that had we played this game after playing six or seven league games, we would have been different.

“But we are now at home and I am led to believe we are expecting a full house. We will be better for that game, a lot of people needed it.

“No matter how many friendlies you have, you are not ready. The game in Slovakia was our first competitive game and we are putting work in on the back of that. We are looking forward to the second leg.”