sport

Bruce targets Europa progress

Alex Bruce believes Hull City are "quietly confident" of reaching the Europa League play-offs despite being held to a goalless draw by AS Trencin on Thursday night.

The Tigers were favourites to beat their Slovakian opponents in their first competitive European fixture in Zilina but came away from their third qualifying round first leg with a stalemate.

Tom Huddlestone could have put Hull 1-0 up but saw his 61st-minute penalty saved and hit the bar on the rebound.

Bruce was not surprised the visitors did not get things their own way but is hoping for a positive result at the KC Stadium to carry them through next week.

"It was a tough game for us, particularly because we've only had a couple of friendlies and they are into their season," he said.

"Friendlies aren't the same as competitive matches so they were just that bit fitter than us, running round like whippets, which is a bit of a leveller.

"If it was during the season and we were at peak fitness and match sharp I'm sure we would have won quite handsomely. But we have had the benefit of that game now and I'm sure we'll be quietly confident of doing the job at home."

Huddlestone has missed spot-kicks while at Tottenham, but Bruce was surprised to see his side's penalty taker fail from 12 yards.

"I think everyone in the ground thought it was going in, we all know how cleanly Tom strikes the ball," he said.

"The second chance, I think he just thought it was too easy, a rush of blood. I'm sure he'll be beating himself up about it but we'd prefer him to do it in a game like last night when we've got another chance at home.

"We've missed a few penalties as a side so I'm going to start taking them, but then we really would be in trouble."

Hull handed debuts to summer signings Tom Ince and Robert Snodgrass in the second half against Trencin, and Bruce expects to see plenty more of them as his father and manager Steve rotates his squad this season.

He added: "We could have a lot of games this year so it's important to have a big squad and utilise that for each game.

"The new lads did have a bit of impact when they came on and we need to keep it fresh.

"I'd be very, very surprised if we see the same team again for the next match."

The second leg will be played at Hull's KC Stadium on Thursday, August 7th.