SUCH is the tight nature of the Championship table that Hull City slipped six places in midweek when they were without a game because of Birmingham City’s involvement in the Europa League.
It means that instead of sitting pretty in the play-off places as they were after last weekend’s entertaining goalless draw at Brighton & Hove Albion, the Tigers host Watford today in 12th.
The Hornets arrive on the back of a wretched run and without having scored in five hours, meaning that on paper the fixture represents a chance for Hull to make up the ground lost during the week.
Manager Nigel Pearson is adamant his players must do just that and wants them to take the field in ruthless mood.
The Hull boss, whose side are unbeaten in seven games, said: “What has got us up and running is how we have gone about our games, being positive and making sure the tempo is right.
“We know Watford will try and make it tough for us. Our form is such that we have got to be concentrating solely on our own performance.
“We missed out in midweek, but the league is still exceptionally tight and we want to keep our form going.”
Pearson has one big decision to make in terms of selecting today’s starting XI with Martin Pusic out with a hip problem.
That could pave the way for either Tom Cairney or Paul McKenna to return in midfield with Robert Koren, such a big influence in Hull’s last two games, moving to the left.
Pearson, while declining to reveal who will come into the team, added: “Martin has got a bit of a hip problem and that is a shame.
“He has been patient to get his chance and had injuries, so after getting in the side and doing well, it is disappointing.
“He has adapted to the English game very well so to pick up an injury is frustrating for him.”
Better news for Hull is the return of Martyn Waghorn, who had to sit out the draw at Brighton with a hamstring injury sustained when on duty with the England Under-21s.
Cameron Stewart is targeting a return next month after resuming contact training with the rest of the squad.
The former Manchester United winger has been out for nine months with a cruciate ligament injury and his pace will be a huge addition to Hull’s attacking armoury.