Hull City vs Sheffield United Preview: Can the Blades push themselves back into the play-off places?

Sheffield United will be looking to continue their recent revival in the Championship as they take on Hull City at the KCOM Stadium on Friday evening.

Sheffield United will be looking to continue their recent revival in the Championship as they take on Hull City at the KCOM Stadium on Friday evening. 

The Tigers suffered a disappointing 3-1 defeat to play-off chasing Middlesbrough in midweek which has left them just outside of the relegation places. 

In comparison, the Blades continue to compete at the other end of the table and picked up a vital three points as they beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night. 

How they've fared so far

It has been a very disappointing season for everyone connected with Hull so far following their relegation from the Premier League last time out. Many felt that they still had a squad with enough quality to at least challenge for a play-off place but this soon turned out not to be the case. 

Leonid Slutsky lasted just a couple of months as manager of the club as he was dismissed in December following a 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. The 46-year-old, who previously managed Russia's national team, was perhaps slightly unlucky to lose his job considering the off-the-field issues he had to contend with during his time in charge. 

The club wasted no time in appointing Nigel Adkins as Slutsky's successor but results have not really improved since he has taken over. Adkins does have a lot of experience having previously managed the likes of Scunthorpe United, Southampton, Reading and Sheffield United but he is yet to have a positive impact in Yorkshire. He has only won four of his 15 matches in charge so far in all competitions. 

Many felt that the Tigers may had turned a corner when they won 2-0 at The City Ground against fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest. However, the defeat to Boro in midweek proved that their defensive frailties are far from being sorted. 

As for Sheffield United, there is no doubt that they are proving many doubters wrong this season under the management of Chris Wilder. Not many people had them down as promotion contenders before the season kicked off but they have carried the momentum from their League One title winning campaign into this season. 

However, the Blades have only recently begun to turn their form around again after a slight blip over the New Year. At one point it looked like Wilder's side may be genuine contenders for automatic promotion but this dip in form saw them slip out of the play-offs all together. They have started to turn it round with important wins against Leeds United and QPR, either side of a positive performance against Leicester City in the FA Cup.

Due to this being the first game of the weekend in the Championship, the Blades have the opportunity to move into the play-offs with a win which would certainly put pressure on those around them.

Last time they met 

Hull last played the Blades in a 4-1 defeat in the Championship at Bramall Lane in November. The Tigers had taken the lead through a superb strike from Kamil Grosicki but four goals in the second-half from Blades striker Leon Clarke turned the game around and secured Wilder's side all three points. 

Team news 

Adkins will be unable to name striker Harry Wilson in his starting line-up for this one as he continues to recover from the injury he picked up against Chelsea in the FA Cup.

However, the Tigers will be boosted by the potential returns of Abel Hernandez and Jarrod Bowen to the squad who are both crucial players. 

As for the Blades, James Wilson is a major doubt after missing the midweek win over QPR. However, both Simon Moore and John Fleck are back available after their recent suspensions have both ended.