Hull boss Steve Bruce has ridiculed reports linking him with a summer move to Fulham.

Bruce has grown used to hints of his impending departure from the KC Stadium having been strongly tipped to succeed Alan Pardew at Newcastle earlier this season.

And just last week Bruce was fielding questions about his future in charge of the Tigers after a 3-0 home loss to Newcastle dumped them in the relegation zone.

With his mind firmly on Tuesday night's crucial home clash with Aston Villa, Bruce is determined to give short shrift to the latest suggestions and said they were disrespectful to current Cottagers boss Kit Symons.

Bruce said: "I was getting the sack the day before, and then Fulham want me.

"Unfortunately with the media today I can't do anything about it. The biggest problem I've got with the whole thing is they've got a manager in situ at Fulham and I've got huge respect for Kit who is new to the job.

"I can't comment on it because if I comment on it it just fuels it even more, and as far as I'm concerned it's rubbish journalism."

Saturday's 1-1 draw at Manchester City has provided a timely confidence boost to the Tigers camp and Bruce knows the next month could shape the club's top-flight future.

Games against QPR, Stoke and Sunderland follow Villa and the Hull boss has demanded his players replicate their form against the big clubs in these crucial relegation scraps.

"This cluster of games we have coming up are going to be crucial to us," added Bruce. "We've got to show the resilience and attitude we had at Liverpool and Arsenal and Manchester City.

"That's where we were very good last year – we beat the teams around us and unfortunately this season we haven't done that, and we have to address it over the next few weeks."

Bruce could call both new boy Dame N'Doye and fellow striker Nikica Jelavic to his starting line-up for the visit of shot-shy Villa after both started on the bench against City.

Jelavic is still struggling to shake off a long-term knee injury and Bruce is keen to protect his Croatian striker who he believes could make a big difference in the end-of-season run-in.

Bruce said: "Only Jelavic would have come back playing within five weeks and arguably his attitude in trying to play has set him back a bit.

"We've got to make sure he's 100 per cent fit and healthy and that's the reason I left him out on Saturday because two games in two days is too big an ask for him.

"We've got to get his knee better but he trained very well and he is uppermost in my mind. A fit and healthy Jelavic is going to be crucial in the weeks ahead."