FA Cup win over Barnsley could boost Hull City's momentum in promotion race, says Steve Agnew
HULL City assistant boss Steve Agnew is targeting victory over Barnsley in the FA Cup this afternoon as a means to build momentum ahead of a pivotal month in the Championship promotion race.
City welcome the Tykes to the KC Stadium aiming to book a place in the last 16 of the FA Cup for only the second time in 24 years.
Although the competition will be a secondary concern in Steve Bruce's grand plans for the campaign, Agnew insists City are not taking the fourth round date lightly.
An extra-time win over Leyton Orient in round three remains City's only victory in 2013, and Agnew believes victory over Championship strugglers Barnsley can provide a timely lift ahead of six league games inside 22 days next month.
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"It's all about winning football matches," he said. "That's why players turn up on a Saturday afternoon and train every day.
"You can gain momentum and confidence by winning matches week in and week out, whether it's a league game or an FA Cup tie.
"Players want to play, especially when we've had no midweek game.
"They'll all be champing at the bit and I'm sure every member of our squad would love to feature."
City are odds-on favourites to beat Barnsley at the KC Stadium for the second time this season, having previously won the league encounter 1-0 in early November.
And Agnew points to the example set by League Two Bradford City in reaching the League Cup final as inspiration for an extended run.
"Bradford are a great example of how far you can actually go in any cup competition once you win two or three games and get the ball rolling," he said.
"If the draw is kind you can progress, then who knows? If the big boys are paired with each other and you get a kind draw, before you know it you can be in the quarter-finals.
"There's been plenty of teams who have done it.
"There's a lot of Championship teams who have done well in recent years and we'll be looking to do the same."
Unlike the initial third round tie against Orient three weeks ago, Bruce is expected to resist wholesale changes.
One figure guaranteed a recall, however, will be goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic.
The 28-year-old will return to replace the cup-tied David Stockdale for his first appearance at the KC since his nightmare display in the 3-1 loss to Sheffield Wednesday two weeks ago.
"Eldin did ever so well over the Christmas period and he's an experienced goalkeeper who's played in the Champions League.
"He is still bright and bubbly. In terms of confidence I'm sure he'll be fine," Agnew said.