Hull City boss Steve Bruce has hit back at Stoke after a gory picture emerged of a bloody gash in Stephen Ireland’s leg following a challenger by Tigers defender Maynor Figueroa.
Stoke manager Mark Hughes claimed the challenge could have ended Ireland’s career and that Figueroa should have been sent off. The injury needed 12 to 15 stitches.
Bruce, speaking ahead of Hull’s home match against Sunderland this evening (7.45pm), disputed that claim and insisted it was Ireland himself who should have been given his marching orders for an earlier challenge.
He said: “Let me tell you, Stephen Ireland committed the worst challenge on the pitch on Davd Meyler. He shouldn’t have been on the pitch if the referee had done his job. It was an awful challenge.
“I could show you a picture of Figueroa’s ankle, he had five stitches in it and carried on. Nobody wants to see a cut or an injury as bad as Stephen Ireland had but unfortunately in football it happens.
“Everybody is wearing the boots called blades and the challenge on Ireland he’s kicked the ball and followed through and unfortunately has caught his leg.
“At the time nobody went to the referee, he didn’t award a free-kick — it wasn’t a free-kick but one of those horrible ones where he’s followed through and caught the boy on the calf rather than planted the boot on him.”
Hull have won all four matches against the Black Cats under Bruce and a fifth would see the Tigers open up a four-point gap over their rivals that would do much to help their climb away from the relegation zone.
Bruce admitted: “It is a pivotal game. Our better goal difference would mean it is the equivalent of five points and would give us a good cushion above the bottom three.”
Wes Brown may start for Sunderland after the club succeeded in overturning the red card shown to the defender against Manchester United on Saturday. Brown was dismissed by referee Roger East for what the official felt was a foul on United striker Radamel Falcao, although it appeared on replays John O’Shea was the guilty party.
Boss Gus Poyet said: “I’m very, very pleased. In a very important game tomorrow, we need Wes.”
Adam Johnson will not be included in the Sunderland squad after being suspended by the club following his arrest on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16.
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