August 22, 2014

Hull City take on Stoke City at the KC Stadium on Sunday at the end of a busy week for manager Steve Bruce and his team.

The Tigers opened their Premier League campaign with a 1-0 victory at Queens Park Rangers last Saturday, with defender James Chester heading home a 52nd-minute winner and goalkeeper Allan McGregor saving a penalty to secure all three points.

Hull lost summer signing Robert Snodgrass through injury during the game at Loftus Road, and it was later confirmed the Scotland international midfielder had a dislocated kneecap and faces a lengthy spell out of action.

"We've lost Robert and with the diagnosis, we think we're going to lose him for six months which is a big blow to us all because we've spent a lot of money on that midfield area," Bruce told his club's official website. "We've lost him for the best part of the season. It's a tragedy for him and for us."

The Tigers lost 1-0 away to KSC Lokeren on Thursday in a Europa League play-off first leg. This time it was a howler from last weekend's hero McGregor that gifted the Belgian side their winning goal when he passed the ball straight to home midfielder Hans Vanaken, who then scored with ease.

"That's how football works," Bruce said. "Allan was the hero last Saturday when saving a penalty and last night he made a mistake which cost us."

Stoke ended last season in ninth place - their best finish in the Premier League - and hopes were high the Potters could build on Mark Hughes' promising first 12 months as manager at the Britannia Stadium.

However, things didn't go exactly to plan on the opening day of the new campaign as Stoke lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa, a team many pundits felt would struggle this term.

One positive from last Saturday's defeat was the impressive performance of Serbia forward Bojan Krkic, who joined the Potters from Barcelona in July.

Hughes expects a tough test at the KC but believes the Potters can get a result against the Tigers.

"It's a very difficult fixture for us because they will be on a high having recorded a good away win against Queens Park rangers on the opening day," Hughes told his club's official website. "They will be looking at this, their first home game, as a chance to put on a show for their supporters, but that may cause them a few issues if we are able to start the game strong.

"We may look to play on that if we are able to do so and make them feel a little bit anxious. It's really just about making sure we are nice and compact, remain solid and enabling our key players to impact the game in the right areas. If we can do that then we will be fine, I'm sure."

Bruce made nine changes for the Lokeren match, and many of the players who started the Rangers game are expected to face Stoke.

In addition to Snodgrass, Hull will definitely be without suspended striker Yannick Sagbo.

Stoke are unlikely to include winger Victor Moses, who lacks match fitness after joining on loan from Chelsea, while midfielder Stephen Ireland will miss out with a rib injury.

Hull have won only one of their previous 10 matches against Stoke. Last season, the teams played out a goalless draw at the KC Stadium in December before the Potters earned a 1-0 victory at the Britannia in March, with Peter Odemwingie scoring the winner after 62 minutes.

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