Hull manager Steve Bruce believes injuries to key players have crippled the Tigers' bid for Premier League survival this season.
A 2-0 defeat to Tottenham on Saturday means Hull must beat Manchester United at home next weekend to have any hope of catching Newcastle and Sunderland, who are two and three points ahead respectively. Sunderland also have a game in hand.
Hull spent more than £40million on new players last summer but too many have failed to deliver.
Robert Snodgrass, signed from Norwich for £6m, has not played since dislocating his kneecap on debut while Mo Diame, Michael Dawson and Nikica Jelavic have all endured lengthy spells on the sidelines.
"Seven or eight of the team against Tottenham are the team that got me here two and a half years ago," Bruce (below) said.
"It's not time for excuses but big players have been missing for too long.
"Too often we've got big players out who we've paid big money for and there is the problem."
"Over a period of the season we've not been able to cope with the loss of the big players."
Bruce has a miserable record as manager against United, having never tasted victory in 21 matches against his old club.
Hull were punished at White Hart Lane for squandering a number of chances and Bruce admits his players will have to be more clinical to have any chance against Louis van Gaal's side.
"We've come to Tottenham, who are fifth or sixth in the league and had five or six great opportunities and we haven't taken them," Bruce added.
"This is the big league and if you don't take your chances that are presented in front of you then it's going to be a difficult afternoon again."