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Bullard ruled out for rest of season after knee op

Hull City midfielder Jimmy Bullard has been ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery in the United States.

The 30-year-old, a record £5m January signing from Fulham, has played just 37 minutes for the club when coming on as a substitute against West Ham United. He was then injured following a tackle by Scott Parker - the same player who crocked him at the start of the 2006/07 season which led to an 18-month absence.

It means Bullard has so far cost the East Yorkshire club £135,135-a-minute.

Hull had originally played down fears over the extent of the injury, claiming they had sent scans to renowned knee surgeon Dr Richard Steadman purely as a precaution and he would be out for around 10 days.

Bullard flew to Denver this week for a consultation with Dr Steadman, who also operated on his original knee injury, and immediate surgery was advised.

It was originally thought Bullard only had a slight cartilage problem but during the procedure a new problem with the anterior cruciate ligament was discovered.

A statement released by the club read: "Jimmy Bullard underwent a procedure last night [Wednesday] in America to repair a torn cartilage. Whilst performing the arthroscopy, the surgeon noticed fresh damage to his anterior cruciate ligament.

"In the best interests of both the player and Hull City Football Club it was decided to undertake a reconstruction of the damaged ligament which means that Jimmy will be unavailable for the remainder of this season.

"The Club wishes Jimmy a speedy recovery and look forward to his return in a Tigers' shirt as soon as possible."

Hull placed their hopes of improved form on signing Bullard, but they must now attempt to avoid dropping into a serious relegation scrap without him.

Phil Brown's side have won just once since October, that victory coming against Middlesbrough in December.

Despite recent draws against West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea, Brown is aware they must start winning again to avoid being dragged into the danger zone.

Hull are currently 12th in the table in their debut top flight campaign, six points above the relegation zone though only the bottom two clubs have a worse goal difference.

The transfer always had a degree of risk given Bullard's medical history and that he had a slight problem when moving to the KC Stadium. Brown has insisted he will accept full responsibility for taking such a huge risk on a player which has backfired.

Hull chairman Paul Duffen defended Bullard's signing and dismissed any fears the player's career may be over.

Duffen also insisted that, contrary to some reports, Bullard was put through a thorough medical before the deal was completed and that the new injury is unconnected to his past problems.

Duffen told Sky Sports News: ''We have signed him for four-and-a-half years and the important thing now is we can look forward to welcoming Jimmy Bullard as a new signing all over again next season.

''When he came to the club, we obviously knew what his medical history was, but the MRI scans we went through showed there wasn't a problem with a former injury.

''It is definitely something, as was discovered by the surgeon yesterday, that is a new trauma. This is something that has happened since, during the game at West Ham.

''This isn't a career-ending injury, this is a setback. Cruciate reconstructions are quite routine now in football and he is in the hands of the best-renowned surgeon in the world. I am sure we will see Jimmy back before too long.''

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