Bruce urges Hull defence not to shy away from Lukaku

HULL CITY manager Steve Bruce is confident his defence have the physical wherewithal to cope with Everton’s muscular striker Romelu Lukaku, whom he has likened to a young Didier Drogba.

Hull boss Steve Bruce

Eighth-placed Tigers face the side one place above them in the Premier League table this afternoon, seeking their first victory at Goodison Park since 1952, with Bruce acknowledging the extent of their task.

Roberto Martinez’s side have made an impressive start to the season and were the only unbeaten side in the top-flight prior to their 3-1 reverse at Manchester City last time out.

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Spearheading their attack is bustling 6ft 3ins Belgian international Lukaku, whose two goals in the recent qualifying victory in Croatia booked his country’s berth at the World Cup finals for the first time since 2002.

On the striker, who has hit four goals in three league games since arriving on a season-long loan from Chelsea, Bruce said: “He’s some loan signing, put it that way. The boy is going to be some player.

“He’s only 21. I watched him against Newcastle and it was a fantastic home debut.

“He’s big, strong, powerful and can finish. He’s good in the air, left-footed and can run away from people. He’s got all the little bits you need.

“He reminds me so much of a young Drogba. That’s the highest compliment I can give him.

“If he can get up to that standard, to one of the best centre-forwards we’ve seen in this country, he’ll be something.”

On how the ex-Manchester United defender would have coped with him in his playing days, Bruce added: “I’d have probably cried for help. There’s all sorts of ways you can deal with him but, as a centre-back, you’ve got to be physically ready for the challenge of him.

“If you shy away from it, you’re finished. He’s a big, powerful lump and you’ve got to be ready for a few bumps and bruises.

“Touch wood our two defenders have shown the right qualities. A Premier League defender needs to be up for the physical challenge, but I’m comfortable with the thought they can cope.”

Today’s trip to Everton is the first of a daunting away double-header for Hull, who visit Spurs tomorrow week.

Bruce acknowledges that if his side can negotiate both games unbeaten it would be a ‘fantastic’ achievement.

Bruce, set to welcome back Robbie Brady this afternoon, said: “Maybe people have been a little bit shocked at how we’ve played and what we’ve done, but you can’t stay under the radar long in the Premier League.

“We are a newly-promoted side and thankfully we’ve got off to a good start. The new players have settled in quickly and that’s helped us.

“Not to be beaten in the next two games would be fantastic. There’s only Chelsea and Man City who have beaten us this season and if we can maintain that, it would be terrific.

“But I know from experience how tough a place Everton is to go. I’ve never had much in my travels going there.”

Wary Quinn: Page 4.