Can this fit-again striker help Hull City stave off relegation?

Sone Aluko's return can boost the Tigers' survival hopes, with the club still just four points off the drop zone despite the weekend win at Sunderland.

The Hull City board showed great faith in backing Steve Bruce's desire to strengthen his Hull City pack in the January transfer window, sanctioning deals for Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long.

Long had already scored against Champions League-chasing Tottenham last week and added to his early early glowing reputation on Humberside by notching in the 2-0 win at Sunderland on Saturday.

Jelavic grabbed a second to score his inaugural Tigers goal and also his first in the Premier League on the whole in over a year. The celebrations from the Croat were wild, with pressure clearly alleviated from his shoulders.

He had toiled in his opening appearances for his new club and there were palpable fears amongst the KC Stadium faithful of his suitability to a side fighting off the threat of an immediate drop back down to the Championship.

To see him score with a header which opened his account - hardly an easy chance at that - was as relieving as it was vindicating for Bruce as he looks to justify his venture into the market for two proven Premier League strikers looking to re-establish themselves elsewhere.

The primary element lacking in Bruce's side's play in the opening half of the season was a bona fide marksman who could finish off the chances talisman Tom Huddlestone was crafting almost at will but there is one man who will be determined to make up for lost time and provide Bruce with another boost for the final stages of an enthralling survival battle.

Aluko has been plagued with an achilles injury since October which left Bruce with a dearth of strikers to choose from, with neither the now-departed Danny Graham, nor Yannick Sagbo posing enough of a consistent threat up top for a goal-shy Tigers outfit.

Long and Jelavic's respective arrivals can combat that, but equally so can Aluko's return, having scored and secured two assists before he succumbed to an injury which would curtail his maiden Premier League campaign.

Aluko's turn of pace and technical ability stand him out from other attackers in the Hull ranks and he epitomised these qualities with his solitary strike against Newcastle, an acrobatic effort which stunned the Tyneside natives and secured, arguably, one of Hull's two biggest scalps this term.

Given he made just nine appearances between the start of the season and October, his stats hardly count against him, having attempted 17 shots in that period.

That works out at almost two per game, a ratio which is likely to yield goals when paired with either of Bruce's new additions when you add his pace and flair to the industrious forward work of Long and the aerial presence of Jelavic.

The six on-target attempts, matched by as many which failed to test the keeper, may be of slight concern to the Tigers chief but with Sagbo and Fryatt also waiting in the wings, Bruce can at least be confident of having the requisite firepower to keep his side's noses above 18th place, an achievement Hull fans could only have dreamt of at the start of this captivating Premier League season.

PlayerTeamPosTotal Scoring AttOntarget Scoring AttShot Off TargetGoalsAssistAppsMins
Sone Aluko Hull FW 17 6 6 1 2 9 645

image: © nicksarebi

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