Peter Swan: Bruce facing big test in transfer market as Hull City enter critical phase of promotion bid
HULL City boss Steve Bruce is a man who has great contacts across the world of football, and I am sure he will be spending the next fortnight calling them in a bid to strengthen his Tigers squad.
The loss of striker Sone Aluko for up to eight weeks is a massive blow to the Tigers as they enter a crucial period in their bid to make a return to the Premier League.
On top of that problem is the continuing worry over the goalkeeping situation, which threatens to undo all City's good work in getting into a great position.
All of this was compounded further yesterday by the recall of wing-back Ahmed Elmohamady by Sunderland.
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Suddenly, two of City's best players over the past few months are out of the equation, and Bruce has found himself short in key positions.
He is without a striker who causes genuine fear in an opposition defence, without a goalkeeper he can have full confidence in, and has lost the best crosser of the ball at the club.
With that in mind, I think it's fair to say we are now entering a critical period for the Tigers in terms of their promotion hopes.
Only a week or two ago, Bruce was saying how happy he was with his squad and feeling good about their prospects.
He will still be confident of their promotion hopes, but given what has happened over the past few weeks, there will be a few nagging concerns.
It all started when David Stockdale was recalled by Fulham after impressing on loan.
His replacement, Eldin Jakupovic, has looked shaky from day one and is just not up to the job. He had a nightmare against Sheffield Wednesday when he cost City a point by spilling a corner into his own net, and then at Leyton Orient in the FA Cup replay on Tuesday he looked an accident waiting to happen.
He fumbled the ball on a number of occasions, and then he was at fault for their late equaliser, as he should have had it covered despite a deflection.
This is a situation that Bruce knows cannot continue and needs resolving as quickly as possible.
I am sure he is doing all he can regarding Stockdale's availability, but unfortunately, it is out of his hands somewhat and down to Fulham.
In terms of Aluko, even though they are hopeful of him being back in around eight weeks, there is no guarantee of that with an Achilles injury.
I had them myself in my career, and they are quite unpredictable in terms of the time needed to recover, and you can't rush any player, no matter how important they are, back into playing.
The best case scenario is mid-March, and that leaves a massive hole in the City side.
The recent turn of events can only have intensified City's search for new striking options, as having enjoyed a season with few bumps on the road, they now have some key issues to address, and the final fortnight of the month is going to be huge for Bruce and City.