Bruce accused of "defending the indefensible" over Figueroa tackle

Stoke City's Stephen Ireland on the ground injured after a after a tackle from Hull City's Maynor Figueroa Credit: Press Association

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has accused his Hull counterpart Steve Bruce of trying to "defend the indefensible" over Maynor Figueroa's tackle on Stephen Ireland, who is facing two to three weeks out as a result of the challenge.

The incident in Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash between the two clubs at the Britannia Stadium, which prompted no action from the officials at the time, left Potters midfielder Ireland with a huge gash in his calf that required "12 to 15 stitches".

Hughes claimed post-match that the tackle could have finished Ireland's career, said Tigers defender Figueroa should have been shown a straight red card, and was strongly critical of the game's referee Neil Swarbrick and his assistants.

Bruce subsequently hit back on Monday, suggesting that at the point thechallenge was made, Ireland should not have been on the pitch as he should have been sent off himself for earlier making "the worst challenge on the pitch" on David Meyler.

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes and Hull City's manager Steve Bruce shake hands Credit: Press Association

The Hull manager also suggested the Figueroa incident had not even warranted a free-kick, adding: "He kicked the ball and followed through and unfortunately has caught his (Ireland's) leg."

But Hughes said on Tuesday: "I think Steve has fallen into the trap of tryingto defend the indefensible.

"I think everyone has seen the two challenges and I didn't think there was any comparison whatsoever.

"I don't think Steve did himself too much credit in terms of his observationsof the events of the day."

Figueroa will not be facing any retrospective action from the FootballAssociation over the matter after Swarbrick's match report said he had seen the incident at the time.