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Huddlestone tipped for cup return

Last Updated: Sun, 06 Apr 2014 15:12
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Hull boss Steve Bruce expects Tom Huddlestone to be fit for next weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United at Wembley.

Huddlestone missed the Tigers' 1-0 Barclays Premier League win over Swansea on Saturday after suffering a slight back strain in the previous game at Stoke.

The 27-year-old's absence was more a precaution, with the trip to Wembley in mind, and Bruce is confident he will be available when the Tigers appear in the last four for the first time since 1930.

"We expect him to be (fit)," Bruce said.

"He hurt his back last week (against Stoke) which led to an abductor muscle problem and he was sore around his midriff.

"We'll see how he is but we expect him to be fit."

In Huddlestone's absence, Hull were still able to pick up a win that all but confirmed their top-flight survival.

George Boyd's first-half header was enough to settle a game that never quite matched the party mood the home support - who were somewhat alarmingly armed with face masks of their manager - were hoping to enjoy ahead of a rare trip to the national stadium.

Hull are now nine points clear of the bottom three with five games left to play.

Bruce was not willing to declare his side safe, but, with his objective of 10 league wins now secured, he can now at least concentrate fully on their historic semi-final.

"We don't play (in the league) next weekend. We play in the cup," he said.

"Let's concentrate on the cup and hopefully everyone will enjoy themselves and make a day of it.

"It was 1930 since we were there so let's go and enjoy the occasion - and make sure we win."

The Tigers are odds on to beat Sheffield United, who sit 11th in the League One table.

Bruce senses his players will welcome a change of competition after the rigours of a first season back in the Premier League.

Hull did begin to lose their way in the second half against Swansea, who might have equalised but for a lack of cutting edge, but Bruce denied that was down to thoughts prematurely shifting ahead to Wembley.

"I don't think it's next weekend. I think it's the whole Premiership," he said.

"We have a lot of players who are new to it - Boydy is the typical one who six years ago was playing non-league.

"David Meyler has not really played in the Premier League, Jake Livermore has not really played in the Premier League.

"It's new and it's a new experience to them and they can only get better with it because it is a big tough league.

"Their resilience and attitude has made them where they are in the table."

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