Hull City v Birmingham City: team news
Abdoulaye Faye and Paul McShane both returned to full training this week to bolster Hull City's defensive options ahead of this afternoon’s clash with Birmingham City.
Faye has been out for the past four weeks with a calf injury sustained at Millwall, while McShane has not featured since collecting a hamstring injury in the 1-0 win over Charlton a fortnight ago.
Both defenders would be available if necessary but the availability of James Chester, Jack Hobbs and Alex Bruce may persuade Steve Bruce to give the returning pair additional time to recover.
Bruce has plenty of options available as he targets a return to winning ways following last weekend’s 4-1 loss at Bolton Wanderers.
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George Boyd, who made his debut as a second-half substitute at the Reebok Stadium, is being considered for a start and that will place captain Robert Koren under pressure in the advanced midfield role.
Bruce received mixed news from the treatment room this week.
Although Sone Aluko will play no further part in the season due to Achilles surgery, Matty Fryatt is now just 10 days away from resuming full training.
The forward has not played for seven months but could be fit again to star during the final straight of the season in April.
Birmingham City boss Lee Clark will include new recruit Shane Ferguson in his squad for today’s trip to the KC Stadium.
Ferguson is a versatile left-sided player, signed from Newcastle United on a one-month loan on Thursday, and a place on the bench may be his best hope after going two months without a competitive run-out.
An injury doubt hangs over left-back Mitchell Hancox but Paul Robinson appears the more likely to deputise.
Birmingham have injury concerns elsewhere in their relegation-threatened squad and will again be without former Hull City striker Marlon King.
The Blues’ top goalscorer has been struggling with a knee injury of late and will not be considered after missing training all week.
Clark’s major dilemma will be how to contend with City’s wing-back formation.
Although a 4-4-2 shape brought success at Peterborough last weekend, the Birmingham boss may choose to pack his midfield in a 4-5-1 formation in an attempt to stifle the Tigers’ threat from wide.
Full-backs Stephen Carr and David Murphy, influential figures in their play-off finish last season, are both ruled out for the season with knee injuries, while Keith Fahey also remains out of the equation.