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Swansea tie a 'cup final for Hull: Bruce

Steve Bruce may be confident his Hull side have enough quality to avoid relegation but that has not stopped him labelling today's clash with Swansea a "cup final".

It is, of course, a familiar cliche for bosses to fall back on when battling the drop but December is an early first outing for the phrase.

It is not hard to see where Bruce's sense of urgency has come from though, with a sequence of one Premier League victory in the last 14 matches dragging the Tigers to second bottom in the table.

A costly habit of conceding late goals, an apparent loss of solidity at the KC Stadium and an increasingly threadbare squad - ravaged by injury, suspension and Hatem Ben Arfa's lack of dedication - make for an unhappy blend. And it is one Bruce (above) knows must be changed sooner rather than later.

"This one's a cup final if we really want to put it down to that," said Bruce, who guided the club to last season's FA Cup showpiece at Wembley.

"It's a big game for us and a big opportunity. We've got to get a result, it's as simple as that. We've had an awful run of fixtures, with some awful injuries to go with it, but we have to forget about what's happened before and pick up a few points to get our season back up and running. It's a big, important time for us but there are a lot of clubs in the bottom half who'll be saying the same thing."

Bruce added: "It's so close at the bottom and we know we're capable of winning a couple of games, so I don't think there's any need to panic yet."