Bullard can revive Hull, says Brown

Long-awaited return from injury lifts strugglers despite latest defeat at Fulham

The Hull manager, Phil Brown, hopes Jimmy Bullard will take centre stage after he made his long-awaited return in Monday's 2-0 defeat by Fulham.

Bullard made only his second appearance for the Tigers after his debut in January was wrecked by a serious knee injury that has kept him sidelined since.

The £5million record signing from Fulham was given a hostile reception at Craven Cottage, with the fans who once idolised him heavily booing his 57th-minute arrival as a substitute. Brown revealed Bullard took the reaction in his stride and is eager to see him become a regular in the team.

"It's very important for us to get Jimmy in the team, that's the reason we bought him," Brown said. "When he plays, Jimmy has the responsibility of getting on the ball and making us tick. We saw glimpses of that in the second half.

"Unfortunately he came on at a time when we needed to get something from the game and that opens things up.

"Jimmy's fine after getting that reception. He's a great character, the type that takes some knocking down," he added. "It didn't matter whether he had 10,000 or 50,000 screaming for his head, he knew he had to play football. That's the character I want."

Fulham climbed to 12th in the Premier League after Bobby Zamora inspired a triumphant 130th anniversary match. Zamora scored only his second league goal of the season before setting up strike partner Diomansy Kamara after the interval of a match Fulham dominated.

Hull held talks with the 28-year-old, who has hit the target only eight times in 51 appearances for Fulham, before he opted to stay and fight for his place at the club.

Manager Roy Hodgson admitted he was glad Zamora rejected the move. "It was nice to see Bobby score a goal. His all-round play was good as usual and he made yet another goal tonight," he said.

"We allowed Bobby to talk to Hull but at the same time I made it clear to him that we felt we could still get a lot from him. With him it's not just about scoring, he's also an important target and feature of our attacking play. I'm glad he stayed."

Also in the bottom three along with Hull, Portsmouth still believe they can escape despite being four points adrift of safety. Manager Paul Hart remains convinced Pompey have what it takes to climb off the bottom.

Pompey have lost eight of their nine league games this season, going down 2-1 against former manager Harry Redknapp and Tottenham last weekend. However, Hart has seen enough to stay positive ahead of the trip to fellow strugglers Hull before games against Wigan, Blackburn and Stoke.

"These are games where we think if we continue to perform like that we're going to cause an awful lot of problems," Hart said.

"Of course, I would never be that presumptuous and say we can go there and just do what we want. But I think these recent performances against a lot of teams will enable us to give them problems."

Hart added: "The Premier League is very hard, no matter who you play, but my job now is to make sure we get up again and try to get performances of that calibre. If we were getting trounced, pummelled and battered all over the place or out-done tactically or strategically then I'd hold up my hand.

"You wouldn't hold out that much hope - but we're not. You can't just roll up and expect teams to lie down, but if we can maintain this level of performance we will be difficult to play against."

*The former Hull striker Dean Windass is hoping to launch his managerial career with League Two strugglers Grimsby after applying for the vacancy at Blundell Park. Grimsby sacked manager Mike Newell on Monday and Windass wants to bounce straight back into management after being shown the door at fellow strugglers Darlington last month.

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