Hull City welcome second-from-bottom Barnsley to the KCOM Stadium on Wednesday night, looking to put to rest a winless run that has seen them slip far down the table in recent months.
The Tigers entered the New Year full of optimism as they overcame Sheffield Wednesday to massively boost their hopes of pushing for a play-off place, but as injuries and poor form have taken over, they have slipped massively down the table.
Their Championship prospects have not been helped by the departures of Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen with just hours of each other on deadline day.
They have replaced relatively well by bringing in Mallik Wilks on-loan from Wednesday’s opponents and red-hot Peterborough United attacking midfielder Marcus Maddison before the deadline shut.
Since February has rolled around, the Tigers have played five with just two draws and three losses, seven goals scored and 15 conceded.
The last result was a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of an in-form Preston North End side who came from behind after Wilks’ first-half opener with s great second-half performance that stunned Grant McCann’s side in the space of four minutes to clinch all three points.
Up next is a different test as they’re back on home soil to host Gerhard Struber’s resurgent Barnsley side who have left themselves with a serious chance of survival after back-to-back wins.
The Tigers will be looking to halt their progress and put more breathing space between themselves and the bottom three, as they currently sit seven points clear of the drop.
Here is the lineup we expect Grant McCann to field against the Tykes on Wednesday night…
McCann has settled on the 4-2-3-1 formation in recent months as he moulds his squad closer to what he wants, and as he copes with the loss of key players to transfers and injuries.
In goal will remain the ever-present George Long who is in need of recapturing the form that has warranted him nailing down his spot at the Tigers’ first-choice goalkeeper this season. He has been relatively consistent over the season but as the side stumble, his form has taken a symptomatic dip.
In front of Long will be an unchanged back four of Matthew Pennington, Reece Burke, Jordy de Wijs, and Callum Elder. While they have shipped a number of goals in the last month, this still presents McCann with his strongest lineup as he contends with constant injury issues, as Eric Lichaj sits out. De Wijs and Burke need to get back to the levels of performance they were showing earlier in the season that helped the side edge very close to the top six.
Holding midfield will see no changes as Leo Da Silva Lopes and Jackson Irvine continue their work in the side as Kevin Stewart works his way back to full fitness following a foot injury. These two have provided solid work ethic in the middle of the park blended with great ball retention too.
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In attacking midfield is where McCann will be forced into a host of changes as Mallik Wilks sits out against his parent club, Tom Eaves sits out after being stretchered off with an ankle injury against Preston and George Honeyman’s lack of impact. In come Marcus Maddison, Jon Toral and Martin Samuelsen to play in the trident just behind Josh Magennis who moves into the lone striker role after playing out on the left at the weekend.
The creativity of Toral and Maddison should be something that McCann will be looking to emphasise at home as they push for an all-important win and Josh Magennis’s experience up front could be a valuable asset against a very inexperienced Barnsley back-line.