Premier League Preview: Hull City Vs. Sunderland, Kingston Communication Stadium, Kingston Upon Hull, England, Saturday 24 April 2010, 15:00BST
It's a proverbial "cup final" in East Yorkshire with Hull City's Tigers taking on the Black Cats of Sunderland. If the Tigers do not win and West Ham beat Wigan it is good night Vienna for the Amber and Black army of Hull City.
It's an old cliche but Hull City's season now rests on the 90+ minutes of football at two ends of the country. A win for the Tigers and a loss for West Ham and it's all to play for, but a draw at the KC, might just do it as well.
However, that would mean that nothing less than victories at Wigan's DW Stadium next week, and then another victory against Liverpool who may be still fighting for that fourth Champions League spot make this game a much better target for three necessary points than the last game of the season.
All the while hoping that West Ham fail to claim anymore points this season, as the Hammers far superior goal difference could be the final nail in the Tigers' Premier League coffin.
Temporary Football Consultant, Iain Dowie will be happy to see the return of captain Anthony Gardner to the battered Hull City defence. However, with the ex-England defender light on match practice, a full 90 minutes maybe too much for the fragile centre back.
There are doubts about the fitness of Dean Marney and Bernard Mendy who will both face late fitness tests before the game.
However, Dowie will still be without the services of club captain Ian Ashbee, Richard Garcia, and Kamil Zayatte who are all suffering from knee injuries. Caleb Folan is out with a hip problem and Stephen Hunt is sidelined after surgery on a niggling foot injury that has seen the Tigers' top scorer miss the past month and a half of first team football.
Dowie will also have to rest the big Dutch centre forward Jan Vannegoor of Hesselink who suffered a concussion against Aston Villa mid week. Vannegoor of Hesselink was knocked unconscious for almost five minutes in a clash of heads with Villa captain Richard Dunne. Although the ex-Netherlands international was cleared after precautionary CT scans, it is thought that he will miss the Sunderland tie.
Steve Bruce's Sunderland side reached the safety margin of 40 points last weekend when they beat Burnley 2-1. However, Sunderland will still have a very realistic chance of a top half finish if they can win their remaining games as only two points separate 13th place from 10th position.
Bruce will have to give a late fitness test to centre back stalwart, John Mensah who has a hamstring injury, which could pave the way for a return to the side for Anton Ferdinand.
The Black Cats' could also see the return of captain Lorik Cana who has returned to training from a groin strain. However, the clash may have come too soon for Lee Cattermole who has been suffering from a niggling calf problem.
To add spice to the tie, it will see the return of two of Hull City's favourite sons in Frazier Campbell and Michael Turner, who were key to the East Yorkshire club's promotion winning season two seasons ago.
For Campbell it maybe a torrid time as many of the Tiger-nation will not have forgiven him for spurning the club in a protracted transfer negotiation last summer, but for Michael Turner it should be a very different affair.
Turner was twice the winner of Hull City's player of the year award but in peculiar circumstances the big centre back was sold at the start of the season to Sunderland for a fraction of his true value, with the player saying at the time he was very happy with the Tigers.
However, since last season things have changed drastically for the Tigers as they see themselves on the brink of relegation, with a new manager and an as yet, amount unknown financial debt.
Nothing less than a victory will be enough for the bedraggled Tigers.
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