Hull's attacking problems

Posted by Philip Buckingham

Yannick Sagbo red card Hull v NorwichGettyImagesYannick Sagbo's ban has further limited Bruce's attacking options.

Not for the first time in his 14-month reign as Hull City boss, Steve Bruce finds himself troubled by attacking woes.

After clambering out of the Championship with just 61 goals to their name last season -- the second lowest total of a promoted side in the last decade -- the long search for goalscoring answers has followed the Tigers like a shadow into the Premier League.

- Tigers survive Orient scare

Although summer moves for Danny Graham, signed on loan from Sunderland, and Yannick Sagbo, a £1.6 million capture from Evian, have attempted to address the long-standing issue, Bruce will be weighing up one more striker before Monday's transfer deadline.

A three-game suspension to Sagbo has only served to accentuate the issue.

The Ivory Coast international's needless dismissal for an attempted head-butt not only gave City a mountain to climb in claiming their first three points against Norwich, but also ensures he misses the league games with Manchester City and Cardiff City. Not until the trip to Newcastle on September 21 will he be seen again.

Privately, big things were expected from Sagbo this term. An unknown quantity in the English game following his formative years in French football, Bruce hopes the striker's strength, pace and awareness will make him tailor-made for the transition.

A straight red card in his second game will first call for patience and provide Bruce with a short-term problem heading to the Etihad Stadium this weekend.

The first fixture of Sagbo's ban came at Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night and set up a direct shoot-out between Matty Fryatt and Nick Proschwitz for at worst a place in Saturday's travelling squad.

Graham, in fact, had initially been pencilled in to start the tie only to be refused permission on the morning of the game by Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio. For a player guaranteed to be at the KC Stadium until at least January, by which time the competition will have reached the semi-final stage, it was a decision lacking all rhyme and reason from Wearside.

Proschwitz was the beneficiary when joining Fryatt in a front two, but both forwards struggled to prove they are worthy of a Premier League debut this weekend.

Proschwitz, in particular, was a source of familiar disappointment for Bruce. Signed from German club SC Paderborn for £2.6 million last summer, there are still few signs to suggest the 26-year-old can eventually come good. That Bruce publically bemoaned Proschwitz's failure to adapt after the extra-time win at Brisbane Road hardly boded well.

Fryatt, meanwhile, poses a more curious conundrum. In 2010-11 and 2011-12 he finished as the club's top scorer in a side short of attacking intent. His 16 goals in the 2011-12 season make him the only City player in the last five seasons to hit more than a dozen.

A cruel Achilles injury ruled Fryatt out of all but five games of the Tigers' promotion season and leaves Bruce still eager to learn more. The sharpness in the final third is slowly returning but Fryatt missed two late chances to be the hero at Leyton Orient.

The answers, however, may already be in their ranks. As well as the outstanding Sone Aluko, clever and dangerous from a withdrawn attacking role, City have a wonderful prospect in Robbie Brady.

While he played the majority of last season as a livewire left wing-back in a richly-successful 3-5-2 shape, the Republic of Ireland international is advancing up the field to a role he was more familiar with during his teenage years with Manchester United.

Strong, direct and skilful, Brady is regarded by many at City to have it all. A £2 million move from Old Trafford in January already looks a bargain and he already has both of the Tigers' two goals this season in his column.

A cool penalty was enough to sink Norwich on Saturday before he proved the hero at Leyton Orient this week. Introduced at half-time of extra-time, the youngster needed just 65 seconds to pirouette inside the O's box and fire a crisp drive into the bottom corner. With that he did in a minute what his team-mates had failed to do in the previous 105 and booked City a third round berth for the first time since 2009-10.

Bruce admitted he is toying with the idea of pushing Brady on in support of Graham at Manchester City but the prospect of business before Monday's deadline cannot be discounted. The out-of-favour Aaron Mclean and Cameron Stewart would be the collateral damage if Bruce had his way.

Sagbo and Graham have bolstered the options but the prospect of signing one more forward will be doing laps of Bruce's mind in the coming days.


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