Steve Bruce: Six wins gives Hull City big chance
STEVE Bruce will ask his Hull City side for six wins from their last 10 games to provide a telling final push towards the Premier League.
The Tigers travel to Burnley this evening knowing victory at Turf Moor would propel them back into second spot after the weekend brought a catalogue of setbacks for their leading promotion rivals in the Championship.
Although Crystal Palace fought back to draw 2-2 with Leeds and push City down to fourth, second-placed Watford fluffed their lines in dramatic style when surrendering a lead to lose 2-1 at home to Blackpool. Sheffield Wednesday's shock 1-0 win at fifth-placed Leicester added the gloss to an improbable weekend and leaves the Tigers with a golden opportunity to turn up the heat tonight.
A first away win in four can lift City up two places to second and Bruce is urging his side to break into a sprint down the season's final straight.
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"I haven't set any particular targets for the final 10 games, but six wins would leave you with a great chance," Bruce told the Mail.
"We've shown that form before this season, during December for example, and it's about finding it again now.
"It's all about who can really put a run together now. There's no team in particularly strong form around us.
"Watford have clearly been on a good run but someone like Cardiff up at the top have only won two from six. Palace, too, have struggled away from home. We're in the thick of it and we're in with a great shout."
Victory at Turf Moor would require City to end a run of seven consecutive defeats against a side that has held a hex over tonight's visitors for the last four years. Sean Dyche's side, who occupy 11th spot in the Championship, won 1-0 at the KC Stadium in November to continue an uncomfortable dominance.
Bruce's men will also need to end a frustrating sequence of three consecutive away defeats if they are to bounce back from a 4-2 loss at Palace six days ago.
That result made it eight goals conceded in two uncharacteristic away fixtures and Bruce has hinted towards a more conservative approach at Turf Moor.
"We have to concentrate on getting that resilience back again," he explained. "When I look at the side, especially the other night, we're committing too many men forward and chasing the game.
"We've got to be a little bit more disciplined and get back to what made us such a good team. That wasn't our goals, it was a resilience across the side. It's not about the back three, we defend as a team. We'll work on that."
Bruce picked out City's last away win, a dogged 1-0 success at Millwall, as the blueprint to follow this evening, and that could mean a place in midfield for son Alex.
"It's something I might have to look at. We did it successfully at Millwall and maybe we need to be a bit more defensively minded when we go away from home," he added.
"But we're also mindful of the fact we need to win these games. We've been terrific all season and just because we've had a bad week there's no need for panic."
Tigers preview – Pages 22-23