Eldin Jakupovic set for Hull City debut after David Stockdale's departure
HULL City boss Steve Bruce looks set to hand goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic his long-awaited debut as the Tigers attempt to fill the void left by David Stockdale at Derby County tonight.
City travel to Pride Park targeting a win that would propel them into the Championship's automatic promotion places for the first time this season.
However, their preparations were dealt an unforeseen blow this week when recent number one Stockdale saw his loan from Fulham cut short, leaving Bruce with the choice of either recalling Ben Amos or turning to summer signing Jakupovic for the first time.
Bruce stressed both goalkeepers would be capable of stepping into Stockdale's shoes, but the Mail understands Jakupovic headed the queue before City's departure to the East Midlands this morning.
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The 28-year-old, who is yet to make a first-team appearance since his summer arrival on a free transfer, will become the eighth different goalkeeper used in the last three seasons if given the nod tonight.
With the incentive of climbing above Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace, Bruce admits the stakes are high as he weighs up his dilemma.
"I've got to make a decision and it will be an important one," Bruce told the Mail.
"I hope I pick the right one because that's what management is about, having faith in yourself that you're making the right one.
"Ben Amos and Eldin Jakupovic are in my thoughts and Mark Oxley will also come into the equation in the next week or so because he did very well before breaking his finger at Burton.
"We took Ben out of the firing line but let's not forget he did well for a large part of the season. Then there's Eldin, who's taken some time to adapt to the English game but I've seen plenty of improvement in him.
"I'm confident that whoever I bring in will be able to do a job for us."
Although fears of seeing David Meyler called back by parent club Sunderland are yet to materialise, the loss of Stockdale has come as a surprise to Bruce.
The keeper will spend the final games of 2012 serving as understudy to Mark Schwarzer after back-up option Neil Etheridge suffered an injury this week.
But hopes are high Stockdale could soon be back at the KC.
"We thought it was going to be Meyler, which thankfully hasn't happened, but you've got to deal with these things," Bruce added.
"They've got an injury to one of their goalkeepers at Fulham and, as a manager, you have to look after yourself first and foremost.
"Of course it's disappointing because he's done very well for us, but hopefully there's a deal that can still be done in January to secure him until the end of the season."
Bruce will be forced into at least two changes as the Tigers hunt a fourth consecutive win as an appeal against Alex Bruce's red card last week was rejected.
Abdoulaye Faye or Paul McShane, fit again after a leg injury, will step into a three-man defence alongside James Chester and Jack Hobbs.