Hull's Bullard closes on Craven Cottage comeback
Jimmy Bullard could make his long-awaited return from injury when Hull City face his former side Fulham on October 19, with manager Phil Brown hopeful the player will play a "big part" for the struggling side this season.
Bullard, 30, became Hull's record signing when joining the club for £5 million in January but lasted just 38 minutes before sustaining a serious injury that required cruciate ligament surgery.
The midfielder has been recuperating ever since and could step up his recovery with an appearance for Hull's reserve side next week. If he comes through that unscathed, then Bullard could well make an emotional return at Craven Cottage following the international break in a game which is broadcast live by ESPN in the UK.
"The plan of attack with Jimmy will mean his comeback game will probably be against Bolton in the reserves next Tuesday at North Ferriby," Brown told the Hull Daily Mail. "Hopefully, one or two supporters will get the chance to see him in a Hull City strip and fingers crossed, we'll see where that takes us.
"We'll have the game against Bolton and then a game against opposition behind closed doors the following week before he can then play some part in the Fulham game. We'll have to be patient with him and understand that it might take three, four or five games before we see his best. But I'm hopeful of the fact Jimmy can come in and play a big part in a big season for us."
Bullard spent two-and-a-half years at Fulham following a £2.5 million move from Wigan in 2006, but the beginning of his Cottagers career was as disastrous as his start at Hull, with the midfielder suffering a career-threatening injury in only his fifth league game for the club.
Coincidentally, his comeback game from that knee problem, which sidelined him for 16 months, was against another former club in West Ham in January 2008.
Brown, meanwhile, admits he needs to make some "big decisions'' to get the Tigers' season back on track.
Brown told the club's website: "Obviously we are all suffering at the moment and people have called for change. We are still in a position higher than we have ever been in our careers in terms of the history of Hull City.
"We are still proud of the fact we are hosting 25,000 at the KC, have 21,000 season-ticket holders and proud of the fact we had 3,000 fans chanting my name, and Hull City, at Liverpool on Saturday - even in the face of defeat.
"With that kind of support I can't go wrong. Obviously you are going to have your critics but now is the time for strong men to make strong decisions and I am going to have to make some big decisions.''