Hull City boss excited by his 'two new signings' Tom Cairney and Jack Hobbs
STEVE Bruce is relishing the prospect of "two new signings" throwing their weight behind Hull City's promotion bid as Jack Hobbs and Tom Cairney edge towards first-team contention.
Both Hobbs and Cairney, absent for seven months and three months respectively with knee injuries, sharpened their fitness levels with a run-out in the reserves' 3-1 win over Gateshead on Wednesday night.
Although neither player will be considered for the back-to-back home games against Burnley and Crystal Palace, another behind-closed-doors friendly next Wednesday could see the pair in contention for the trip to Nottingham Forest a week tomorrow.
Bruce has been buoyed by the efforts of Hobbs and Cairney and said: "We'll have another game in midweek next week and they'll need that.
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"Jack hasn't had a full 90 yet but if he was to get that next week, then I'd be expect him to be knocking on the door.
"I can't wait for that. It'll be like a new player coming in.
"The same goes for Cairney. For anyone that's not seen him recently, they'll get one hell of a shock.
"He's eight-and-a-half kilos lighter than he was and he's really grasped the nettle.
"Both of them should be in and around the side in the next couple of weeks."
Bruce has received a more immediate injury boost with the news Liam Rosenior has recovered from his groin strain in time to face Burnley tomorrow, but fellow defender Paul McShane is still struggling to overcome his calf injury.
McShane was due to be tested again today, but risks will not be taken to disrupt a three-man defence that performed so admirably in the 3-2 win at Birmingham last weekend.
Elsewhere, Mark Oxley, who returned from his loan at Burton Albion with a broken finger, is unlikely to play again in 2012.
"Mark doesn't need an operation but's he's going to be out for five or six weeks, hence the reason for a new goalkeeper," Bruce explained.
"Mark has done very well at Burton and we were getting some good reports back.
"It's unfortunate for him because he never seems to be far away from an injury. It's very cruel."
On the long-term injury front, Matty Fryatt has set out on his recovery from Achilles surgery.
The striker will not play for the Tigers again this season and Bruce offered words of support as Fryatt targets a comeback in August 2013.
"Matty's had his operation and it's now just a long road back," he added.
"That's the dark side of football and, like Joe Dudgeon, he's got some huge obstacles standing in his way.
"Everything's on course after the operation but now it's a case of roll on next summer for him."
DANNY Emerton has joined Conference outfit Alfreton Town on loan until January 1.