Hull City now facing European handicap

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steve bruce last night admitted that Hull City qualifying for Europe has complicated his summer recruitment plans.

The Tigers are guaranteed a first crack at European competition next season regardless of how they fare against Arsenal in next weekend’s FA Cup final.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce.

Victory at Wembley would earn City a place in the Europa League group stages and a mid-September start, while defeat would see Bruce’s men placed in the qualifying round as Cup runners-up and having to negotiate two double-headers to reach the competition proper.

Either way, Hull will be competing on the continent and that is already impacting on Bruce’s recruitment.

Not only will the Tigers need a squad capable of battling on two fronts, but complex UEFA rules could leave the Yorkshire club seriously handicapped in Europe.

Clubs competing in the Europa League are required to submit 25 names to UEFA before the competition gets under way, eight of which must have been trained in England for three years or more.

Of those eight, half must have been trained by the club in question for a minimum three consecutive years between the ages of 15 and 21.

At present, Hull have no squad members who fit the second criteria with even fourth-choice goalkeeper Mark Oxley failing to qualify due to having spent last season on loan at Oldham.

That means if the current squad competed in next season’s Europa League, Bruce would be restricted to just 21 players – four less than in the Premier League.

“We are under no illusions as to how difficult it is going to be (next season),” said the City manager ahead of tomorrow’s final day visit of Everton to the KC Stadium.

“For me, the second year is always more difficult than the first. The expectation rises a little bit so we have got to keep on improving.

“Recruitment is a vital part of it. We are going to need another four or five players to come and freshen the whole thing up again.

“Then, there is a huge complication with Europe. Not just in terms of the (squad) rules but the fact you play Saturday, Thursday, Sunday. It is very difficult.

“However, let’s not derail it before we get into it. When the draw comes out in mid-July, to see our name in amongst it will be fantastic. That is when it will grab hold of people.

“We are in with Tottenham and Everton from our country and some big clubs from others. You only have to look at the teams in the Europa League final (next week). Big clubs with huge traditions and histories. To be part of that, great.”

Should City lose to Arsenal a week today, they will enter the third qualifying round on July 31. Providing Bruce’s men then battle through to the group stage, an additional 10 games on top of the Premier League and Capital One Cup schedule will have been played before Christmas.

It is why recruitment is going to be so important this summer as Bruce looks to repeat the success of 2013-14 when Tom Huddlestone, Curtis Davies, Jake Livermore, Allan McGregor, Nikola Jelavic and Shane Long all proved to be astute signings.

Bruce said: “I have a group of people who work for me and they work tirelessly. We take big pride in recruitment.

“It is easy to go and buy five or six players but you have got to get them right. My first big one here I got wrong. (Nick) Proschwitz has been disappointing.

“But the rest have done okay, touch wood. If you look at my time as manager of Sunderland, Wigan and Birmingham, I always looked at it like I am spending my own money.

“We need to get value but it is difficult. Let’s hope we can carry on the success of the big ones we have already brought here.”

One area Bruce is hoping not to have to address in the transfer market is strikers with the £14m capture of Jelavic and Long proving a masterstroke in January.

He added: “I can clearly say I am very happy with what we have got there, providing that we tie up Matty Fryatt (on a new contract), which I’m hoping we can do.

“Jelavic, Long, (Sone) Aluko, Fryatt and (Yannick) Sagbo. That’s one area I will not be touching. Instead, I am looking at midfielders and defenders.”

Livermore, who has been on loan at the KC this season, is definitely on Bruce’s shopping list as he continues to finalise his spending plans.

Victory tomorrow – and an accompanying rise up the table – could bolster the transfer kitty with each position worth an extra £1.3m in prize money.

Bruce added: “We can’t expect the owner to just keep writing cheques every month like he did in the Championship. The more revenue we get, the more I spend.

“Let’s hope we can get a result because, if we do, I think we will go up two or three places, which might make the difference of an extra player.”

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