Hull City v Arsenal: Bruce buoyant as talisman Jelavic eyes Tigers return

Hull City's Nikica Jelavic (Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire).
Hull City's Nikica Jelavic (Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire).
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WITH all five of the teams sitting below Hull City in the Premier League table in action this afternoon, the Tigers’ manager Steve Bruce has a plan to escape the tension.

“I’m off to walk the dog,” said the 54-year-old ahead of a Bank Holiday weekend in which his side have to wait until Monday night to host Arsenal. “And then I’ll come back at 5pm to see what results have come up.”

After a heartening week that has yielded six points from two games, Bruce can afford a bit of levity. Those victories over Crystal Palace and Liverpool have breathed fresh life into the club’s survival fight.

Another round of results going their way today as Newcastle travel to Leicester City, Burnley and QPR face tough away games and Sunderland host Southampton will surely leave Hull well placed regardless of how Monday night’s game with the Gunners pans out.

On whether playing last over a Bank Holiday that also sees Aston Villa host Everton today is an advantage or not, Bruce added: “If results go for you then it is great.

“But if they go against you it is a long wait until Monday night. You’ve got to expect that one or two will get a result anyway.

“Leicester and Newcastle can’t both win, so there is a result.”

Bruce’s good mood at yesterday’s press briefing was not down just to the recent two wins. The possible return of Nikica Jelavic, the club’s top scorer, after knee surgery is also a major plus for the Hull chief.

“Jelavic has a chance,” said Bruce when asked if the Croat could feature on Monday at the KC. “We will see over the next couple of days, but the way he was tramping around the other day in training, it was typical Jelavic.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him. He has had two serious knee operations and worked hard to get back involved.

“For me, if he had stayed fit all season then we would have been fine. Our troubles came when he got injured (in October).

“We know how crucial it is. Look at the mighty Liverpool. I know (Luis) Suarez has gone but you look at a club like them trying to replace their No 1 striker and it is not easy.

“You are only as good as your strikers, no matter what level you are at. Top or bottom. We struggled without Jelavic.

“I think if he is going to be involved, it will be from the bench. How could I disappoint anyone? My job is easy this week, in that respect.”

That last comment points to an unchanged starting XI for the third consecutive fixture.