Maynor Figueroa tackle on Stephen Ireland defended by Steve Bruce

Hull City boss Steve Bruce has hit back at Stoke after a gory picture emerged of a bloody cut to Stephen Ireland's leg following a challenge by defender Maynor Figueroa during the Tigers' 1-0 loss at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes claimed the challenge could have ended Ireland's career and that Figueroa should have been sent off -- the injury needed 12 to 15 stitches.

Bruce, speaking ahead of Hull's home match against Sunderland, disputed that claim and insisted it was Ireland himself who should have been given his marching orders for an earlier challenge.

He said: "Let me tell you, Stephen Ireland committed the worst challenge on the pitch on Davd Meyler. He shouldn't have been on the pitch if the referee had done his job. It was an awful challenge.

"I could show you a picture of Figueroa's ankle, he had five stitches in it and carried on. Nobody wants to see a cut or an injury as bad as Stephen Ireland had but unfortunately in football it happens.

"Everybody is wearing the boots called blades and the challenge on Ireland he's kicked the ball and followed through and unfortunately has caught his leg.

"At the time nobody went to the referee, he didn't award a free kick -- it wasn't a free kick but one of those horrible ones where he's followed through and caught the boy on the calf rather than planted the boot on him."