Romelu Lukaku loan to Everton may have been attempt to hurt Chelsea title rivals, suggests Steve Bruce

Bruce's side Hull travel to Goodison Park this weekend where they will face the striker Jose Mourinho allowed to leave on deadline day

Hull manager Steve Bruce believes Jose Mourinho might have sent Romelu Lukaku to Everton in a bid to hurt Chelsea's title rivals.

Bruce is preparing his side to face Lukaku for the second time this season - the Belgium striker having been a substitute for the Blues in the first game of the season at Stamford Bridge.

It was one of only three appearances he made before being sent on a season-long loan at Goodison Park, a relationship that has already yielded four goals in three matches.

Many fans are perplexed at the decision given Chelsea's struggle to find a consistent centre forward, but Bruce insists Mourinho might have spotted a way to improve his side's title prospects in a less conventional way.

"He's a hell of a loan signing on deadline day, someone like Lukaku. I saw him playing for Belgium in midweek and he's going to be one hell of a player," said Bruce.

"Maybe the reason why he's gone there is Jose has thought 'maybe Everton can go and get as few points off the big boys with him in their team'.

"That would be pretty shrewd really and I think they can.

"Roberto Martinez inherited a very good side and with the addition of Lukaku and James McCarthy they've really added to a squad which has grown well over the last few years."

While Lukaku has hardly been able to stop scoring this season - the 20-year-old bagged two more for his country against Croatia last week - the same has not been true of Hull's own loan striker.

Danny Graham has yet to strike in seven matches for the Tigers, despite a handful of presentable chances, and his total goalless streak stretches to 24 games including his ill-fated spell at Sunderland and the back end of his time at Swansea.

But Graham is not letting statistics drag him down.

"Obviously it would be nice to get that goal, but the most important thing at the moment is that the team is doing well," he told Tigers Player.

"There's no egos or individuals in this team, everybody just wants to do well for each other.

"I'd like to think that I'm contributing to a team that is doing well at the moment. If I wasn't doing that, I don't think the gaffer would have me in the team.

"Once that goal comes, hopefully we can enjoy it and continue to have a good season."

With Everton earning plenty of plaudits for their style of play under Martinez and losing their first league match to Manchester City just before international week, it may surprise some to see newly-promoted Hull lying just a point and a place behind the Toffees.

But Bruce's men had picked up seven points from three games prior to the break and are hoping to keep that form alive this weekend.

"We're all raring to get going again," added Graham.

"We had a good couple of results going into the international break and we didn't really want the break to happen to be honest.

"But we've had a good couple of weeks and now the international lads are back with us so we're all just focusing on Everton now.

"It's good to have some points on the board early on and to have 11 points at this stage is great. Everybody around the place is buzzing at the moment."

PA

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