Hull City: Abdoulaye Faye and Paul McShane return to bolster defence
HULL City boss Steve Bruce hopes to see Abdoulaye Faye and Paul McShane return to full training this week and press for a return from injury against Birmingham City on Saturday.
The Tigers' central defensive options have been stripped over the last week after McShane joined Faye on the sidelines, leaving just Jack Hobbs, James Chester and Alex Bruce as the recognised options in a three-man defence.
A 4-1 loss at Bolton on Saturday saw City's stubborn defensive record spectacularly dismantled at the Reebok Stadium, but Bruce could be handed the chance to freshen up his rearguard when welcoming former club Birmingham to the KC.
After missing the last three weeks with a calf injury suffered in the 1-0 win at Millwall on February 2, Faye is on course for his comeback.
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Should McShane resume training on Thursday, he could be in line to return ahead of schedule from the hamstring strain he suffered in the 1-0 victory over Charlton 10 days ago.
The availability of all five defenders would leave Bruce with a conundrum as he bids to plot a return to winning ways.
The last occasion when all were fit was the trip to Millwall earlier this month and then it was Hobbs who dropped to the bench, with Alex Bruce used in a holding midfield role.
Faye's aerial dominance is well liked by Steve Bruce, as is the veteran's threat from set-pieces. McShane, an increasing fans' favourite at the KC, would also be difficult to overlook.
Bruce will also contemplate changes to his attacking line this weekend.
An encouraging debut off the substitutes bench from new loan signing George Boyd will give Bruce food for thought and place the spotlight on captain Robert Koren.
City will also hope to see Matty Fryatt step up his work on the training ground in the next three weeks ahead of a possible return from an Achilles injury in April.