Tigers boss admits Bullard concern

Brown has been wrestling with the decision about when to throw the

31-year-old back into the team, knowing there are only 11 games for

Hull to preserve their top-flight status. Bullard has been out

since hurting his left knee against Aston Villa in December. The

latest setback came less than two months after the former Fulham

player had returned from a second serious injury to his right knee.

Brown opted not to include Bullard in the squad for the 3-0 defeat

against West Ham last time out but he has since played in a reserve

team game and this week’s behind-closed-doors friendly against

Doncaster. The manager revealed on Friday he has already decided

whether to include Bullard on Sunday – but he knows it could come

back to haunt him. Brown said: “The pros are he will advance us as

a footballing team, the cons are it’ll be a game too early and

he’ll break down. And that will be a disaster for him. “There’s

always a fear it’s a game too early. I’ll be the man to blame if I

throw him in on Sunday and he breaks down. But there’s an awful lot

of thought gone into the decision. “I’ve had plenty of dilemmas,

I’ve had plenty of big decisions this season and hopefully I’ve got

the majority of them right.” Bullard has only played six games for

Hull since moving from Fulham in January 2009 but he is regularly

seen as the key player in their relegation fight. And the Londoner

reinforced that view in his five appearances this season, when he

did enough to pick up the Barclays Premier League Player of the

Month award for November. Brown, though, was keen to stress Hull

are not a one-man team, with midfield duo Tom Cairney and George

Boateng having been among their most impressive performers in

Bullard’s absence. The manager continued: “Whatever he brings to

the party has to be his best because I for one won’t be picking an

injured Jimmy Bullard or an out-of-form Jimmy Bullard, I’ll be

picking somebody who brings something for the rest of the players.

“It’s not just about Jimmy, it’s about the whole team. We find

ourselves in a situation where we have a great chance of staying in

the Premier League for a third season, which would confound an

awful lot of critics. “There’s a couple of players that have put

themselves on the teamsheet week in, week out and, if you consider

playing Jimmy, you’re gng to have to leave one of your better

players out.” The Goodison Park clash represents the latest chance

for Hull to post a first away win of the season. Much has been made

of the Tigers’ poor form on the road, which is the main reason they

find themselves in the bottom three, but Brown insists survival is

all that matters. “It isn’t something that plays on my mind, it’s

probably something that plays on other people’s minds,” he added.

“Last year there had to be three worse teams and we had to get

enough points to stay in the Premier League – that was the deal.

“We got the majority of our points away from home, so if we get the

majority of points at home this year and stay in the Premier League

– that’s the deal.”