Hull City travel to Preston North End on Saturday looking to build on picking up a point in a dramatic 4-4 draw at home to Swansea City last time out.
Grant McCann’s have endured a real difficult period over the last month, but they were able to show their fighting spirit to come back from the frustration of seeing three leads slip away and turn into a 4-3 deficit against Swansea, with Tom Eaves grabbing a 95th minute equaliser to rescue a point.
That brought to an end a run of five defeats in six Championship matches, which had seen the Tigers really slide down the table and start to look over their shoulders towards the relegation zone, but Hull have still not picked up a win in any of their last seven league games.
Hull’s last victory came with a 1-0 success at Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday back on New Year’s Day and that is something that they will need to fix now over the next few weeks, if they are going to be able to get their campaign back on track as the season nears the final stages.
Preston, though, will represent tough opponents for the Tigers on Saturday, with Alex Neil’s side having lost just one of their last seven league games, a run which has seen them move back into the top six and cement themselves as real contenders for promotion, although they did suffer a 1-0 defeat last weekend at home to Millwall.
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Here then, we take a look at the XI that McCann should select against Preston on Saturday…
Hull have been very limited with their options to change things up over the last few weeks, with the Tigers suffering multiple injury problems, but McCann could be able to make a few changes against Preston with a couple of players making their returns from injury.
George Long is likely to keep his place in goal for the Tigers, with the keeper having been an ever present for McCann’ side throughout the season in the Championship, and the 26-year-old will be looking to record a first clean sheet since New Year’s Day this Saturday.
At the back McCann could look to keep Robbie McKenzie in the side at right-back in the continued absence of the injured Eric Lichaj, while Callum Elder is likely to keep his place in the side down the left-hand side – and the pair will be needing to be at their best defensively to keep Preston at bay in the final third.
At the heart of the defence, McCann has some real options to consider, with both Matthew Pennington and Ryan Tafazolli having returned to the squad last time out, and the Tigers will also have both Jordy De Wijs and Reece Burke back in contention for a start after they have recovered from their injuries – and Hull could look reunite the pair who have been their first choice pairing earlier in the season.
In midfield George Honeyman will be pushing for a recall to the starting line-up, while Jon Toral and Kevin Stewart could be set to return to the squad, but McCann could stick with the trio of Leonardo Da Silva Lopes, Daniel Batty and Jackson Irvine who all started against Swansea.
Mallik Wilks is likely to keep his place down the right-hand side of Hull’s attack, having scored his second league goal for the club against Swansea, while Marcus Maddison should start down the left after he scored his first goal for the club last time out, although he has been suffering from illness this week and that could potentially keep him out of action.
Up front Tom Eaves will be pushing for a place in the starting line-up, after coming off the bench to grab the late equaliser against Swansea, but Josh Magennis could keep his place in the side for the trip to Preston on Saturday.