Football - Bruce looks up to Swansea

Hull manager Steve Bruce takes his team to Swansea on Monday night harbouring hopes of replicating the Welsh club's recent rise.

Swansea's story is one of the most unlikely in British football, going from lower league strugglers on the brink of financial oblivion in 2001 to the Barclays Premier League 10 years later.

They have adapted well since their arrival at the top tier and are competing in the Europa League this season after a ninth-placed finish last term.

Although the timelines do not tally up precisely, Hull fans would find plenty of familiarity in the Swansea biography.

They were in the fourth tier as recently as 2003/04 and have had financial struggles of their own, but after a strong start this term Bruce is looking to emulate the likes of Swansea in establishing the Tigers as a feature of the Premier League.

"Swansea have been a really leading club, similar in stature to our club in the way they have done it over the years," he said.

"I watched a documentary on them a couple of weeks ago and where they have come from since 10 or 12 years ago is quite remarkable.

"What they've done and what they've achieved deserves a big pat on the back to all of those who had the foresight and the vision to see it through.

"That has got to be the way forward for us. Look at Wigan - who were there (the Premier League) - for eight years before they slipped out - West Brom, Southampton and Swansea, these are all clubs you can look at.

"It's a difficult lead but it's one we would love to follow."

With 14 matches gone, Hull have made strong progress towards securing their status for another season.

A return of 17 points and 12th place going into the weekend fixtures is a significantly better return than most pundits had predicted for the Tigers.

And while Bruce has made it clear how pleased he has been with his squad he believes the congested winter period, when fixtures come thicker and faster than before, is the real test.

"It's a ridiculous schedule considering before we went into December we had only played 11 or 12 games, then all of a sudden you have eight coming along in a matter of weeks," he said.

"It's a defining part of the season."

Hull are at least boosted by a relatively fit first-team squad.

Injuries have repeatedly disrupted Bruce's plans, with key men such as Robert Koren, James Chester, Allan McGregor and Robbie Brady all missing several weeks.

But all those men are back heading towards the festive fixtures, with Sone Aluko and Stephen Quinn the only absenteess.

"We've had to cope with various injuries and that's part and parcel of the game," he said.

"We certainly haven't got the biggest squad but we've used it and the people who've stepped in have done a manful job. Now we have as fit and healthy a squad as we have had this season.

"It's only Quinn and Aluko injured and I have everyone else to pick from. The more options you have the better and the easier it becomes."