The Championship returns this weekend and Hull City face a pivotal game first up as they welcome Charlton Athletic to the KCOM Stadium in what looks to a be a real relegation scrap.
The Tigers are just one place and two points above the Addicks in the table, with Lee Bowyer’s side occupying the highest of the three relegation places.
Not only could a win on Saturday hand the Tigers some vital points in the battle for survival, it would also give them a huge boost in confidence for the run-in.
With that in mind, here is the XI that we expect Grant McCann to play against Charlton on Saturday…
McCann’s options have been hampered by the news that a number of his players, including Eric Lichaj, Jackson Ervine and Marcus Maddison, will play no further part for the Tigers.
George Long has been Hull’s first-choice shot-stopper throughout the campaign and will surely keep his place for this one. It looks set to be a tight game, so his performance could be vital in ensuring the Tigers get a result.
Ahead of him, the delay to the season has meant that Hull should have first-choice centre-back partnership Reece Burke and Jordy de Wijs, who has just been made club captain, back in the side.
The news of Matthew Pennington’s loan extension is a real boost for the Tigers as the 25-year-old was one of few bright sparks in the weeks before the delay to the season. He looks likely to shift to right-back with Callum Elder on the left.
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Leo Da Silva Lopes and Kevin Stewart look likely to be Hull’s holding midfield duo in what could be a cagey and scrappy affair. Stewart was one of a number of players that had returned to the fray before the delay to the campaign and he could prove a vital man against the Addicks.
Hull lost their two main attacking weapons in January and haven’t looked the same team since. Maddison didn’t settle particularly well but McCann has even fewer options with his exit.
Behind the striker, it looks likely to be January signing Martin Samuelsen on the right, Jon Toral in the middle and Mallik Wilks on the left. The latter may be set to return to Barnsley at the end of the month but you feel the Hull boss needs to make the most of him while he’s around.
Tom Eaves could get the nod upfront. It’s not been the debut season he will have been hoping for but he could be absolutely vital to their survival hopes.