Hull City's under-fire goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic can prove worth in Leyton Orient clash, says Steve Bruce
JUST 72 hours after being stretchered off in Hull City's 3-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, Eldin Jakupovic will be back in action when the Tigers aim to book a place in the FA Cup fourth round at Leyton Orient tonight.
Fears over a serious facial injury were only allayed after hospital checks on Saturday night, but the 28-year-old is now in need of another revival to convince Steve Bruce he can remain as the Tigers' number one.
Jakupovic's impressive run of three consecutive league clean-sheets came to an abrupt halt at the weekend as a nervous performance culminated with him dropping Miguel Llera's corner into his own net to gift Wednesday a late 2-1 lead.
Desperate attempts to salvage the situation brought about a heavy blow to the face, but a subsequent clean bill of health has given Jakupovic the chance to quickly make amends in City's third round replay tonight.
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Although Bruce's search for a new goalkeeper will not be called off this month, he is willing to give Jakupovic the chance to bounce back.
"It's a relief for him to get the all-clear after a nasty knock to the face and he'll be fine to play," said Bruce, who will again use rookie Joe Cracknell as understudy tonight.
"Eldin made a mistake on Saturday, it's as simple as that.
"Just about every player was guilty of making a mistake against Sheffield Wednesday so he wasn't alone.
"When an outfield player makes a mistake it doesn't always get highlighted, but that's life as a goalkeeper for you.
"I'd expect him to bounce back and give a good account of himself. He can't let it bother him and I'm sure he won't."
Jakupovic will be one of the few certain to be retained from Saturday's frustrating loss to the Owls.
With Sone Aluko, Robert Koren, David Meyler and Robbie Brady all absent from the travelling party, and Jack Hobbs and Ahmed Elmohamady also unlikely to feature, Bruce will again make wholesale changes.
The Tigers were grateful to Nick Proschwitz's stoppage-time equaliser as they salvaged a 1-1 draw in the first meeting with Orient 10 days ago.
A fourth round tie at home to the Championship's second-bottom club Barnsley awaits tonight's winners, and an opportunity to then make the last 16.
"We're still in the competition and have been given a nice home tie in the next round, so the incentive is there for us to get a result," said Bruce.
"We want to win every game we play in and we'll not be going down there and taking Leyton Orient lightly.
"There were too many players who weren't up to speed in the first game and we know we didn't perform. They'll want to put that right, I'm sure."
City's excellent run of nine league and cup games unbeaten was curtailed with defeat to the Owls, a result that leaves the second-placed Tigers two points clear of the chasing play-off sides.
Bruce admits it was a sobering set-back, but one his side must learn from.
He added: "If anyone thought we were going to go from the middle of January to the end of the season unbeaten then they were sadly mistaken.
"The Championship is an incredibly tough league to get out of and if you're not at your best then you'll get punished. Maybe Saturday was the kick up the backside we needed."