Derby County v Hull City: Bruce seeks place in top two to provide lift for tough schedule

The last time Hull City occupied a place in the top two of the Championship, there were three games of the 2007-08 season remaining and a place in the Premier League beckoned for Phil Brown’s men.

Tonight could see the Tigers return to the automatic promotion places as a win will be enough to see Steve Bruce’s men depose second-placed Crystal Palace and draw level on points with leaders Cardiff City.

Bruce admits claiming a place in the top two – even if it lasts until only tomorrow night – is a great incentive for his men ahead of the game with Derby County but that no one at the KC is in danger of getting carried away.

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The Hull chief said: “We have done okay and are pleased with our league position. But the one thing about this division is you can’t get too carried away, no matter how well things seem to be going. We have had a decent start, but that is all it is: a start.

“All you need is for a couple of injuries and suspensions to come along and that can cause you problems. Having said that, a good run of results does breed confidence and we have done well lately so are looking forward to what will be a demanding Christmas and New Year. Our next four games are tough and we will have to be ready.”

After tonight, Hull host Leicester City and Leeds United before starting the new year by the seaside against Blackpool.

Such a run represents a tough schedule for a squad without David Stockdale after the Fulham goalkeeper was recalled from his loan spell.

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Bruce said: “To lose David like we did is obviously disappointing. But that is what can happen when you have loan players. The bottom line is they belong to someone else and that is just how it is.

“Maybe we can look at doing something in January, we will have to wait and see. The main thing at the moment is Derby and I have two capable goalkeepers to choose from.”

Last six games: Derby County LWDLWW, Hull City WLDWWW. 
Last time: Derby County 0 Hull City 2; November 19, 2011; Championship.

Referee: D Sheldrake (Surrey).