Hull City manager Steve Bruce has confirmed he will rotate his squad for the FA Cup fifth-round replay against Arsenal on 8 March, as the Tigers' priority is to secure promotion back to the Premier League. The likes of Shaun Maloney and Manchester United loanee Nick Powell will have the chance to show their worth after the fringe duo played a part in the 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium last month.
Bruce made ten changes in the game to tackle the fatigue of his players. Hull managed to force a replay thanks to the heroics of reserve goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic. The boss has confirmed he will use the same policy in the return match after his side lost 1-0 to Birmingham City at the weekend, a significant dent to their chances of automatic promotion.
"The priority is always the league and where we want to get to," Bruce said, as quoted by BBC. "We want to be playing the Arsenals and the Chelseas every week. But there's nothing quite like an FA Cup tie or an FA Cup run. Once it gets to this stage there's all to play for."
"There's a whole raft of teams playing in the Championship on Tuesday, there's a full fixture list. If we manage to get through then we will have to move next Saturday too, so it just piles up the fixtures – which is a bit of a concern.
"Thankfully the squad that we have got at the moment, everybody's fit. Some of the squad haven't played since the first game against Arsenal so it will good for them, people like Maloney and Nick Powell in particular. In that respect we will be making changes, yes."
Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, is also expected to make some alterations in his line-up to the team that drew at Spurs over the weekend. Bruce said he expected the Gunners to deploy a strong starting eleven due to the depth of the squad, claiming that recent criticisms of the French boss are "ridiculous".
"Whatever team Arsenal put out, there are international players all over the place in the 25-man squad, they're an excellent team," Bruce said. "They've had a bit of criticism, which I find ridiculous, but then again it's part and parcel [of life] as a football manager at the moment. How anybody can criticise him is beyond me with what he's achieved and what he's done.
"I think that typifies them at the weekend – people are criticising them and then they go and respond the way they do, and that's typical Arsenal and typical Arsene Wenger."