Hull City have the stamina for promotion race, says Steve Bruce
STEVE Bruce is confident his Hull City side have the strength to ensure their Championship promotion assault is not found wanting during March for the second consecutive campaign.
The Tigers host Birmingham City at the KC Stadium this afternoon in need of a reaction after a three-game winning run was curtailed by a sobering 4-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers last weekend.
The pressures of the promotion race are slowly beginning to build and it was in the final quarter of last season when City's promotion bid veered irretrievably off course under former manager Nick Barmby as a sapping March brought just one victory from nine games.
With 12 fixtures left to shape their fate, Bruce's men are eight points better off than at this stage last season and he has no concerns over the Tigers' stamina as they target a fourth consecutive home win today.
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"I don't think we've got anything to worry about," said Bruce. "The squad has been overhauled since last year and they've gone the course for months on end.
"We've shown we're a resilient lot and they're looking forward to the challenge.
"They know it's going to be hard but we're in a great position. Let's make a good fist of it."
This afternoon's clash with Birmingham offers the incentive for City to reclaim second in the Championship after Watford drew 1-1 at relegation-haunted Wolves last night.
Bruce admits the fortunes of his rivals are becoming increasingly important as the finishing line of the season looms large, but stresses City's destiny is still their own to create.
"We know how close it is at the top of the league but we've got to accept it and enjoy it," he added.
"We're all looking at tables now, we're not going to lie, but we've got a really, really outstanding chance. So have four or five others so it's all to play for."
City's prospects sustained a dent when comprehensively beaten at Bolton last weekend as three goals conceded in the opening eight minutes sent Bruce's men into a tailspin.
It was only the Tigers' third defeat in 16 league games and Bruce draws comfort from City's durability ahead of welcoming his former club Birmingham to the KC.
"It's about consistency in this league and I'm pleased to say I can only really count our bad displays on one hand," he said.
"It's up to us now to get back to what we're good at and I'm quietly confident we'll do that.
"It's important that we react in the right way."