HULL CITY head coach Nigel Adkins believes a return of two points per game from his side’s final 20 Championship outings will be enough to gatecrash the play-offs.
The Tigers host Sheffield Wednesday in one of today’s two Football League Yorkshire derbies.
Barnsley host Bradford City in the other with Daniel Stendel and David Hopkin, the respective managers, expecting a tough test in a derby that has significant ramifications at either end of the League One table.
Adkins has the same mindset about his Hull side’s own White Rose encounter between two clubs harbouring hopes of making a concerted dash up the table.
“There is no margin for error but that is the same for everyone because everyone is in the race,” said the Hull chief when asked about bridging the seven-point gap to the top six.
“If you look at Fulham, who got promoted last year via the play-offs, they were a point above where we are now (at this stage last season) so it is possible to put a run together.
“Over the years, there is normally one team that comes from the pack or lower down. Reading did it a few years ago. It is amazing how far momentum can take you.”
Fuelling his belief that the play-offs are an attainable goal is a seven-game run since the start of December that has yielded 19 points and taken City from the relegation zone to 13th place.
He added: “We have got 20 games remaining and objective number one (in August) was to make sure we stayed in the division.
“To do that, we have got to average 0.55 points per game between now and the end of the season.
Over the years, there is normally one team that comes from the pack or lower down. Reading did it a few years ago. It is amazing how far momentum can take you.Hull City manager Nigel Adkins
“Flip that to getting ourselves in the play-offs and we have got to average two points a game. That is going off the stats from the last four years of the Championship.”
But for Steve Bruce’s need to delay his arrival at Hillsborough until February 1, today would have brought a return to the club where the Wednesday manager is rightly revered after leading Hull to two promotions, an FA Cup final appearance and a brief foray into European competition.
Steve Agnew, also Bruce’s assistant at the KCOM, will take charge of the Owls and says: “I have fantastic memories (of Hull). We had a promotion in the first season and retained our Premier League status in the following season and had a Cup final, qualified for Europe and had full houses every week.
“It is a terrific club and we enjoyed our time there. But obviously there is only one thing we want from Sheffield Wednesday’s point of view and the players – which is to go and win the game.”
At Oakwell, Barnsley will be looking to make it a hat-trick of victories over Bradford after following a 2-0 win at Valley Parade in August with a 2-1 triumph in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Hopkin had succeeded Michael Collins before the second of those meetings took place and he is in no doubt as to the size of the task facing the Bantams.
“Barnsley, to me, are a Championship squad,” said the former Scotland international. “We played them in November when there were eight or nine changes to their team.
“But the starting XI had just as much quality as the team that had played in the previous league game. Barnsley have a fantastic age group, I think their oldest player is something like 27.
“It gives them bags of energy and they are also well coached. Martin (Drury, first-team coach) went to Burnley last weekend in the FA Cup and he felt Barnsley deserved a replay.”
Reds assistant head coach Andreas Winkler admits a Bradford side fresh from losing just once since the start of December will be a tough prospect.
“Bradford have self-confidence and they are well organised,” said the German. “They have also signed great players with lots of experience and I think that we will face a different side now.”