STEVE BRUCE insists Hull City will not gamble with their financial future during the transfer window despite a mounting injury crisis that is likely to keep the club’s £17m strike force out for up to a month.
The Tigers’ chief is keen to strengthen his squad after Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez both limped out of the 1-0 defeat at fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion.
Coupled with wins for Burnley, Crystal Palace and Leicester City, Hull’s loss brought a return to the relegation zone as the table concertinaed to such an extent that just five points now separate the bottom nine clubs.
Bruce is keen on Jermain Defoe, who wants to leave MLS side Toronto, but believes a deal could be beyond Hull financially, while discussions have been held with Arsene Wenger over a potential loan move for Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo.
The Tigers need reinforcements after a display that was long on endeavour at The Hawthorns but short on creativity once Hernandez and Jelavic had been forced off in the first half.
Bruce said: “We have got to try and identify the player (that can help us). There has been a lot spoken about Jermain Defoe. I, like (Albion manager) Tony Pulis and (Leicester chief) Nigel Pearson and all the people, would like a Jermain Defoe.
“The numbers might cause a problem but, then again, I suppose that would be the same for most of the players in the bottom half because he is very expensive. It might be just beyond us.”
Asked if 32-year-old Defoe could be available on loan, Bruce replied: “They (Toronto) paid £6m for him last year and, by all accounts, they don’t want to let him go. We will have to see.”
The Tigers chief added: “The one thing you don’t want to do is gamble. We have seen all sorts of clubs get into a financial mess by pushing the boat out.
“To be fair to the board, they have always tried to back me. Even in the summer, when we had lost Robert Snodgrass for the season (through injury), they let me go and get (Gaston) Ramirez and (Hatem) Ben Arfa.
“If there is someone who can make a difference I’ll be knocking the door down like I always have done. But we have got to get an individual who can make a difference.”
Hull’s injury woes even before the loss of Jelavic and Hernandez were vividly illustrated in the matchday squad of 18, a third of which were centre-halves with Maynor Figueroa also having filled that role in his career.
This meant when, first, Jelavic limped off with a knee injury on 33 minutes and then Hernandez did the same shortly afterwards due to a groin problem, Bruce was short of options to try to pep up his attack.
Hernandez is expected to be out for a month, while Jelavic’s injury to the same knee that required an operation in the autumn will be assessed today.
Bruce has denied weekend speculation that Nicky Butt was being lined up as his new assistan.
Hull’s downfall at West Brom was a 78th-minute mix-up between Ahmed Elmohamady and Allan McGregor, which saw the hosts awarded a free-kick for a back-pass that Saido Berahino subsequently converted.
Bruce said: “Something like that, you just can’t practise. It never really happens to you. I can’t remember the last time it (an indirect free-kick for a back pass) happened.
“What do you do? They have touched it and the natural reaction is to try and block it.
“Maybe we should have stood there and stood strong, but it has gone through a gap. Looking at it again, there were too many trying to block it.”
Hull’s defeat was a rare blemish on a decent weekend for Yorkshire football as Sheffield Wednesday won 2-0 at Nottingham Forest in the Championship and Huddersfield Town beat promotion hopefuls Watford.
Leeds United also claimed a 1-1 draw from the trip to Bolton Wanderers.
United’s head coach Neil Redfearn, who is keen to bring in former Elland Road hero Luciano Becchio, said: “His (owner Massimo Cellino’s) flight (from Miami) was delayed due to the weather. We will have a chat this week.
“We need to see what the best way forward is but we do need two or three players to steady the ship. We need more scorers. Goals have got to come from all over.”
In League One, Sheffield United claimed an excellent win at home to Preston North End, while Barnsley beat Yeovil Town and Doncaster Rovers came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Oldham Athletic.