Hull City will be aiming to keep up their impressive form at the top of the table, winning 21 games so far this season, the Tigers last losing a game on the February 23. The Tigers are currently in first place holding an advantage of just three points with a game in hand over second place Peterborough United. They could go six points clear if results go in their favour as they look to the Sky Bet Championship for the next campaign, coming into this one on a six game unbeaten run.
Visitors Gillingham are only two points off sixth place Blackpool and three off fifth place Doncaster Rovers, the Seasiders won their most recent game to keep up their play-off ambitions. Gillingham could however climb themselves into play-off contention, but have played 37 games to Blackpool and Doncaster's 34.
Hull will remain without captain Ritchie Smallwood, who has been ruled out for the season with a knee injury. They will also be missing left back Max Clark, who continues his spell on the sidelines with a hamstring problem. Brandon Fleming and Sean Mcloughlin are both expected to return to availability soon, but McCann is not likely to risk either player by bringing them straight into the starting team.
20-year-old Keane Lewis-Potter has had somewhat of a breakout season for Hull, registering nine goals and four assists so far this campaign, and he will feature in their attack again. The dangerous point of that attacking line will be Mallik Wilks who has fired the Tigers to the top of the table with 17 league goals. Despite an unfortunate own goal last time out, Matt Ingram has improved in the Hull goal this season, keeping 14 clean sheets so far this season.
John Magennis and Gavin Whyte have been called up for International duty with Northern Ireland and are unavailable. George Honeyman, who's already missed one game due to an accumulation of cards, is on the brink of another suspension, he has four more yellow cards under his belt. Stuart O'Keefe will be fit for the game after coming off with a knock against Doncaster.
Steve Evans could look to keep the same Gillingham side which has turned out in the last two games, picking up four points from difficult matches against sides in the top six. Vadaine Oliver will lead the line with confidence, having netted four goals in his last three games to take his tally to 13 league goals for the season. They have struggled for reinforcements in recent weeks, but the return of Matty Willock from injury allowed Evans to list a full substitutes bench against Doncaster. Meanwhile James Morton and Christian Maghoma are both expected to remain out of action with injuries.
Manager Evans has expressed doubts over Robbie Cundy and Alex MacDonald following knocks in their last game. Striker Dominic Samuel has been recalled and will travel to Hull. However, Evans is still undecided regarding whether he'll start on the game or sit on the bench as he steps up his recovery from injury. Tom Eaves could start against his former club having made multiple substitute appearances this month.
Hull City: (4-2-3-1): Ingram; Coyle, Burke, Greaves, Elder, Jones, Docherty, Mayer, Honeyman, Lewis-Potter, Wilks.
Gillingham: (4-4-2): Bonham; Jackson, Tucker, McKenzie, Ogilvie, Graham, Dempsey, O'Keefe, Slattery, Akinde, Oliver.
It was a 1-1 draw in their previous game, Hull only managed a point away at New Meadow after coming from behind. With Peterborough breathing down their necks, the Tigers will be looking for another three points to stay in touch of a return to the second division. In their last home game they saw off Oxford City, Lewis-Potter grabbing a brace on the day.
Gillingham have been through a difficult patch, drawing their last home game against Doncaster after winning convincingly away from home against Lincoln City at Sincil Bank. Oliver opened the scoring in the 10th minute, Kyle Dempsey adding a second on the 20th minute mark with Jordan Graham rounding off the three points alongside the third goal to keep a play-off charge alive.
The last meeting between the two sides came on the opening day of this season. Goals from Lewis-Potter and Maggenis secured all three points for the Tigers. Gillingham's last win came in 1985 with David Mehmet scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory. Despite the loss earlier in the season, Gillingham still lead the head to head with six wins to Hull's five. There have also been four draws in the fixture.
Ones to watch
20-year-old Keane Lewis-Potter has a bright future ahead of himself for Hull, registering nine goals and four assists so far this campaign. Always fruitful and a threat he will be looking to break barriers once again to showcase his skill on a football pitch. Surging forward at every given opportunity, he will look to take advantage of vulnerable situations. Wilks is Hull's top scorer, he has been sensational upfront taking most opportunities when called upon.
Dempsey is an assertive dynamic player often keeping the ball very nicely. His wide range passing can often cause problems opening up defences in key periods. He will be one to watch in Saturday afternoon's vital clash.
How to watch
The clash kicks off at 15.00 (GMT) and will be broadcasted live on Hull City and Gillingham’s iFollow streaming services in the UK.
What both managers said pre-match
McCann spoke to club media. When asked about the challenge of Gillingham. He said:
“I watched them against Lincoln and they should have won five or six, said McCann. That’s not an exaggeration they were excellent. They should have got in the top six last season. If the season hadn’t been stopped, I’d have fancied them to get into the top six. They’ve got a manager who knows how to do it. It’ll be a tough game. They’ve got a centre forward in form Vadaine Oliver, a wide player who has crossed more balls than anyone else in the division by about a hundred in Jordan Graham. We know we’re in for a tough game and we know what to expect from them. We’ll approach it by making sure we get our own house in order, that we perform the way we want to perform, and the game plan we’ve set this week, we go and deliver it.”
Asked about Gillingham’s playing style, McCann responded:
“Everyone has got their own style and Gillingham’s style certainly suits the players they’ve recruited. You recruit to a certain style and Gillingham have done that. It’s the way they’ve gone about things this season. A lot of people will think they go direct but when they get into your half, they play. They’ve got good footballers, people like Kyle Dempsey and Alex MacDonald, people who have been about the division. Both full-backs are good Connor Ogilvie and Ryan Jackson they’ll want to get forward. It’s going to be a good game. We’ve got a big pitch, we want to try to get the ball down and move it quick. We want to try to hurt them but we know we’ll have to match the physicality of them first and foremost.”
Evans spoke to club journalists and assessed the hosts, he said:
“They’ve got some outstanding players and an array of talent. They’re a good side that plays a particular way, in a particular shape and are very good at home. We need to be working on the plan and getting it 100% right, be error free and take the chances when they come.”