The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Roddy Brooks

ABEL Her­nan­dez has left a lot to be de­sired since be­com­ing Hull’s record sign­ing, but Steve Bruce be­lieves he’s fi­nally com­ing into his own, with fel­low for­ward Ni­kica Jelavic poised to leave the KC Sta­dium.

Bruce re­vealed two other clubs had shown an in­ter­est in Jelavic, with the trans­fer win­dow poised to slam shut on Mon­day, and left the Croa­t­ian out of the match­day squad for this vic­tory over Pre­ston as a re­sult.

Her­nan­dez had opened his ac­count in the 2-1 de­feat at Charl­ton but claimed his sec­ond here when a clear­ance from Neil Kilkenny hit him and went in to give the Tigers a first-half lead.

Cen­tre-back Curtis Davies net­ted Hull’s sec­ond to wrap up the win late on, and Bruce in­sists both the goalscorer and Michael Daw­son were colos­sal at the heart of de­fence.

“Abel has scored two in a week,” said Bruce. “One came off his back­side from a yard and the other was a tap-in from a yard.

“You can see he’s han­dling life bet­ter at the club and get­ting used to it. I’m still con­vinced we’ve got a very good player on our hands.

“I also thought my two cen­tre halves were ter­rific, ab­so­lutely ter­rific.

“We had a bid late last night for Jelavic, two clubs have shown their hand.

“And with that go­ing on I didn’t think it was right to play him. If Jelavic leaves us I’ve got to go for­ward with the play­ers who are go­ing to be stay­ing here.

“We will see what hap­pens over the next 24 to 48 hours but come Tues­day I would ex­pect Jelavic to be gone.

“I thought Pre­ston were very de­cent, they are com­pet­i­tive and well or­gan­ised and well drilled.

“It was al­ways go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult game.

“They will sur­vive. I think there are worse teams than them for sure.”

Hull took the lead late in the first half when Pre­ston failed to clear a cor­ner and Kilkenny kicked the ball off the line, but it hit Her­nan­dez and re­bounded into the net .

Davies made the vic­tory safe with nine min­utes re­main­ing as he volleyed high into the net from an out-swing­ing cor­ner by Shaun Maloney, who had joined the Tigers from MLS side Chicago Fire just two days be­fore the game against Pre­ston.

The visi­tors rarely threat­ened, aside from a first-half shot from Chris Humphrey and a header over by sec­ond-half sub­sti­tute Alan Browne, and suf­fered a de­feat which leaves Si­mon Grayson’s side 17th in the Cham­pi­onship ta­ble af­ter a three-match win­less streak in the league.

And Grayson ad­mits it was the tried-and-tested qual­ity of Michael Daw­son and goalscorer Davies – who have made hun­dreds of Premier League ap­pear­ances be­tween them – at the back that ul­ti­mately proved the dif­fer­ence in his side’s vic­tory. He said: “Michael Daw­son is man of the match so it tells you they have been tested.

“Daw­son and Davies have played in the Premier League for many years so you can see how good their play­ers are.

“We know where we need to strengthen so we will see if we can do any­thing be­fore the trans­fer win­dow closes.”

And Grayson is now keep­ing his fin­gers crossed that last sea­son’s hero Jer­maine Beck­ford, who re­mains on the side­lines due to a knee in­jury suf­fered in pre-sea­son, does not need an op­er­a­tion.

“He will have to see a sur­geon and then we will know more af­ter that,” re­vealed Grayson.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HULL OF A GOAL: Abel Her­nan­dez cel­e­brates scor­ing a lucky goal

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