Is tomorrow a derby? With 48 miles between us, some would say no, but anyone who lived through the eighties and nineties would certainly have it down as one.
I can remember the day they took over the Barbican, drinking the place dry without paying for a pint. I can remember the spike of fear walking along Scorer Street and seeing their lot coming down the road, full of anger and vitriol. Sure, Hull fans would rather say they are rivals of Leeds (62 miles away), or another ‘big’ club, but fans of a certain age know the last few years in the upper echelons of the Football League are not the norm for Hull, nor are clashes with Leeds United.
It is a huge game; we’re unbeaten against the sides currently in the top two this season, and that will hopefully continue tomorrow. If we needed any additional incentive, Michael Appleton delivered some hugely promising news in his pre-match press conference. Two more injured stars are likely to be on the bench tomorrow, as we slowly get the autumnal band back together for our final push towards the promised land of the Championship.
Captain, talisman and leader Liam Bridcutt is nearing fitness, as is our number nine, Tom Hopper. Both could be involved against Grant McCann’s side, with Michael admitting there is a temptation to put them in the squad.
“They’re very close, there’s a temptation to involve them tomorrow,” he said. “They’ve trained for a few days. Although there’s a temptation to involve them, I’m realistic enough to know there are some other big games coming up and it’s not just about tomorrow. We’ll weigh that up and have a conversation with them and try and make a sensible decision.”
The likelihood is both will be on the bench, maybe with a view to a late run out ahead of huge matches to come against Shrewsbury, Peterborough, Charlton and Wimbledon. After that, it is highly likely we’ll see play-off action, and that will require our key players fit.
In another bit of good news, Cohen Bramall will be fit again and ready for selection. He picked up a knock in the 4-0 win against MK Dons, and then went over and aggravated that against Bristol Rovers. He sat out the Burton win, but was adequately covered by Tayo Edun. However, Bramall’s return is likely to see him slot back in at left-back, with Edun joining McGrandles and (hopefully) Jorge Grant in the midfield.
There is unlikely to be a change at the centre of defence, as both Adam Jackson and Joe Walsh look set to miss tomorrow’s match. With three clean sheets in a row, the Imps are looking solid again, and TJ Eyoma has formed a neat partnership with Lewis Montsma protecting Palmer’s goal. However, with the firepower Hull possess, tomorrow will be vastly different to Tuesday and Saturday, and will really test the minerals the fledgeling pairing possess.
Despite the worries still plaguing the side, it does seem as though we are heading out of the injury crisis, and even if Bridcutt and Hopper are on the bench and do not appear, it is a great sign of what could be to come, should we secure that all-important play-off place.