Hull v Fulham: Bruce backs misfit Hernandez to pack a punch for Tigers

STEVE BRUCE believes returning club record signing Abel Hernandez has the potential to “rip this league apart”.

Abel Hernandez.

The Uruguayan striker endured a miserable first season in English football following his £10m switch from Palermo a year ago.

Hernandez netted just four times and his season was summed up neatly by the ugly final-day punch on Manchester United defender Phil Jones that was missed by the officials but subsequently picked up by the Football Association.

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A three-game ban followed, which is now over and leaves Hernandez – still at the club despite being linked with a return to Italy for most of the summer – free to play tonight against Fulham at the KC Stadium.

Bruce said: “Abel, if he is right, can rip this league apart. Hopefully, he has adapted to being in England. Abel has to learn to live here. He certainly looks the part in training, miles better than last season. But it is up to him.”

If Hernandez is to feature against the Cottagers, it will surely be from the bench. Chuba Akpom has impressed in City’s first three games following his season-long loan switch from Arsenal, while Nikica Jelavic was back to his better form in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Wolves.

Bruce was delighted with his front pair at Molineux and took the televised match as further evidence that City have the potential to grow into a formidable unit. The Tigers manager, who is understood to be facing competition for Brentford striker Andre Gray from Bristol City, said: “I do get a sense that we are going to almost grow into this season, as the games come along.

“I think we are getting better, which is to be expected when you have four or five kids in the team.

“They are just starting out in their careers. I include Andrew Robertson in that, too, as he is still only a boy.

“(Moses) Adebajo is a boy who has only played one year at this level. (Sam) Clucas has not played at this level before this season, neither have the two boys from Arsenal.

“So, slowly but surely, we are getting there. We are trying to assemble a squad that is young and energetic.

“I am sure people could see that at Wolves. We kept going against a very good team and I do believe we will get better.

“The way we finished against Wolves shows we are getting there. If anyone was going to win it late on, that team was us. A big thing will be keeping hold of the nucleus of what we have got. That is going to be the key.”

Last six games: Hull City LLDWDD, Fulham WWLDWL.

Referee: G Salisbury (Lancashire).

Last time: Hull City 6 Fulham 0; December 28, 2013; Premier League.