Hull City’s recent improved form will be severely tested in the next three fixtures as they head to Reading before two home clashes in succession against QPR and Leeds United.
Reading are one of the teams to have impressed me at the KC this season and in Shane Long have a striker in top form going into the clash. City’s long unbeaten away record will be under pressure but with the new defensive pairing of Anthony Gerrard and James Chester looking strong in last week’s home win over Barnsley and with the boost of the return of Liam Rosenior from suspension, that run may well be extended further.
Cover at the back is looking a little bit thin though with Kamil Zayatte deciding to return to France and manager Nigel Pearson may well be looking to bring in another central defender, although loan signing Corry Evans from Manchester united can play in that role.
Robert Koren showed a timely return to form in the win over Barnsley, the Slovenian International filling in across the midfield recently from left to right, and he netted City’s second goal in the win as well as striking a post earlier in the game.
The debate amongst fans over who should fill the central midfield roles continues to burn, some feel Jimmy Bullard should be the midfield linchpin supported by captain Ian Ashbee whilst others are happy for James Harper to keep that position.
Harper missed a large part of the season through injury and has said he is still not quite at full fitness, he is though the manager's choice at present and Bullard may have to content himself with a role from the bench.
Jamie Devitt is also applying pressure for a first team spot after an electric performance as a sub in the cup defeat to Wigan and was unlucky not to start against Barnsley. Loan winger Cameron Stewart is keeping him out of the team at present.
The new striking pairing of Matty Fryatt and Aaron Mclean showed positive signs as they started together for the first time.
Fryatt netted the all important penalty that gave City the lead whilst McLean’s endeavour in chasing down the channels impressed the home fans. There’s no doubt that Fryatt has quality and a scoring pedigree in the Championship. It is though perhaps Stewart who holds the key, his pace can be a real handful and he is a potential match winner every time he plays, if he can add just a little bit more composure to his final ball then City’s two new strikers will undoubtedly benefit.
With the play-offs just six points away City’s credentials as play-off hopefuls will be tested to the full in the next three games, if the emerge unbeaten then they will feel very confident with games against strugglers Scunthorpe and Preston to follow that another tilt at a Wembley final is a strong possibility.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.