McShane makes his case for improving in defence

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PAUL McSHANE accepts Hull City can forget about promotion if they do not tighten up at the back.

The case for the defence this season has largely been underwhelming for the Tigers, who have kept just one clean sheet in their last 10 games.

Their back-four frailties were again exposed at Middlesbrough on Tuesday in a limp 2-0 defeat, with both goals largely gift-wrapped by the visitors.

Sloppiness at the back has shown itself in several games this campaign, much to the alarm of boss Steve Bruce, a redoubtable centre-half in his playing days.

Hull shipped just 44 goals in 46 league games in 2011-12, a record bettered only by second-tier champions Reading.

Republic of Ireland international defender McShane said: “You need to learn from your mistakes very quickly, because this game is unforgiving.

“It is just not good enough to keep conceding bad goals like we did at Middlesbrough because if we want any chance of getting promotion, we need to cut that out as soon as possible.

“With the first goal, it was from our set-piece and they broke out on us and we weren’t quick enough to recover, and with the second one it was too easy for them on the edge of the box and the ball was spilled from a shot.

“It has been too many times now with the sloppy goals and I was saying the same thing over and over again after the Blackpool game.”

Hull, now down to eighth, return to action at Bristol City on Saturday tea-time with a point to prove according to McShane, when he and his team-mates will be desperate to bounce back in front of a TV audience.

He added: “The games come thick and fast in the Championship and it is good to have one again so quickly. We need to pick ourselves up quickly and make sure we are happy again come Saturday night.

“Bristol City will be a tough game and we have to be right for that. We will go again and not stew over the Middlesbrough result for too long.”

Boro’s victory and clean sheet proved sufficient to move them up to third, with Cardiff and Leicester in the automatic promotion places.

But Boro boss Mowbray is all too aware that lofty positions count for nothing in the first half of a long campaign.

“It’s really about accumulating points at this stage of the season; where we are in the league doesn’t really matter,” said Mowbray. “Players can look at the league table at times and it gives them a bit of a confidence boost but up until about Christmas you’re just looking to be in a position to compete.

“When the final placings are given out you need 80 or 90 points to be where you need to be. So we’re just trying to edge our points total up by winning football matches.”