Cautionary tale being preached by Bruce

Hull City's manager Steve Bruce
Hull City's manager Steve Bruce
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STEVE BRUCE makes no apologies for setting Hull City a seemingly modest target of six points from their next five games – and is firmly concentrating on the bigger picture.

The 12th-placed Tigers host Stoke City in a televised fixture tonight (5.30pm), the first of a run of five league matches in a congested 18-day schedule that culminates in a New Year’s Day trip to Liverpool.

With home specialists Hull, beaten just once in seven Premier League fixtures in East Yorkshire, having three of their next four matches at the KC Stadium, hopes are high among optimistic Tigers fans that Bruce’s side can be around the top-10 mark or even higher by the turn of the year – especially with winnable home games against Stoke and Fulham, who have won just three away games between them this term, and a trip to out-of-form WBA on the horizon.

But Bruce, whose side also welcome his former club Manchester United on Boxing Day, is keen to temper expectations and adopt a realistic stance with survival paramount.

The Tigers chief, whose side have claimed 14 of their 18 points so far at home, said: “If we can get six points out of the five games – that might sound mediocre – but I’d be delighted with it.

“That would take us to 24 points going into the new year, which would be a great sum.”

Meanwhile, Bruce is preaching a touch of caution ahead of tonight’s clash with the Potters, managed by Bruce’s ex-Old Trafford team-mate Mark Hughes.

The Midlands outfit are one place and one point behind Hull in 13th spot and the Hull boss is mindful of how the Tigers’ cavalier approach cost them what could yet prove a vital point in the home game with Crystal Palace on November 23.

Bruce, who admits he would love to do a deal in the January transfer window to sign loan midfielder Jake Livermore permanently – if he receives encouragement from Tottenham Hotspur – said: “Stoke have had a wonderful last week, so they’ll be thinking it’s an opportunity for them to come and get something.

“You have to be sensible in your approach. I thought we went a bit gung-ho against Palace.

“In that one, maybe all of us got a bit complacent.”