Hull City v Derby County: Let's jump in driving seat of promotion race, says Steve Bruce
STEVE Bruce is urging his Hull City side to jump into the driving seat of the Championship promotion race with a victory over Derby County at the KC Stadium tonight.
In a fixture rearranged from last month, City host the Rams knowing they will climb above both Watford and Leicester City into second place if they can avoid defeat.
The Tigers failed to capitalise on the same invitation when losing 1-0 at Brighton on Saturday, but will attempt to use three home games inside eight days as the stage to reclaim a coveted spot in the top two.
As well as hosting Nigel Clough's Derby this evening, City will also welcome Charlton Athletic this weekend and Blackburn Rovers a week from today.
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The trio of home games offers City a golden chance to recapture the momentum damaged by a run of one win in five, and Bruce is keen to see his troops wrestle back the initiative from their promotion rivals.
"Within the next couple of weeks we will be down to the last 10 games and this is traditionally a period when one team really picks up momentum," Bruce told the Mail.
"You see it every year in the Championship and the challenge is there for us to be that team.
"To have three home games inside a week is a great opportunity for us to put ourselves in the driving seat and get a run going.
"Nothing will be decided from these games because there's still a long way to go with a lot of points to play for. But if we can get up there into the automatic promotion places and put the points on the board then it would be a great situation to be in."
Asked if he had a points target in mind for the home games with Derby, Charlton and Blackburn, Bruce added: "I'm honestly not thinking that far ahead.
"The first test is Derby and our only concern is making the most of this chance. They're a very useful side and I've been impressed with their midfield all season.
"I'm expecting a tough game and I don't want anyone looking beyond it."
As the only side in the top five in action tonight, victory would guarantee that the Tigers host Charlton this weekend three points clear in second spot and back within eight points of runaway league-leaders Cardiff City.
A point would also be enough to reclaim a place in the Championship's automatic promotion places and Bruce wants his side to relish the rising stakes.
"Let's go out there and enjoy ourselves," added Bruce.
"We've done remarkably well to be there or thereabouts so let's go and enjoy it.
"We're joint second with 16 games to go and if we can put a good run together between now and the end of the season then we'll stand a great chance.
"There'll be plenty of points won and lost by all the teams around us, but if we can build a bit of momentum then we'll be up there, no doubt about it."
ALEX Bruce is rated as having a 50-50 chance of featuring in tonight's fixture after limping out of Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Brighton with a dead leg.