Boxing Day football returns to MKM Stadium as Hull City entertains fit promotion hopes Blackburn Rovers.
Assistant head coach Cliff Byrne will lead the squad in Grant McCann’s absence after he tested positive for Covid-19, with the Tigers bidding for a third win in four home games.
The Rovers are flying high in third under Tony Mowbray after five straight wins and clean sheets, with the Championship’s second-highest scorer, Ben Brereton Diaz, leading their promotion load.
“We are expecting a tough game,” Byrne said.
“They’re in a rich vein in form – like we have been, with no result against Nottingham Forest. We expect a very good game.
“Tony has a way of playing and they have produced results with this formula. They can mix.
“They have a healthy forward at Brereton Diaz and they have a lot of good staff all over the pitch so we wouldn’t want to focus on just one area.
“In the matches they’ve won, they’ve shown that they can play different styles of football, whatever their needs. But again, we’re going to focus on us.
Despite being beaten by Nottingham Forest last time around, the Tigers have accumulated 14 points in the last seven games and Byrne believes the hard work is paying off.
“It has been really positive and just a reward for the hard work of the group,” he added.
“Performance levels, for most of the season, have been high for big chunks of games and we haven’t always been able to get the points out.
“In the last seven games we’ve had this solid points return which is really nice for the squad and something that we can continue to build on.
“Results are a by-product of performance. Throughout the match against Nottingham Forest we had good levels of performance, especially in the second half.
“We thought we should have come out of the game with something. It’s about turning those performances into results, as we have done in the previous six.
And Byrne would love nothing more than to give a late Christmas present to Hull City fans.
“Boxing Day is always a big occasion and it’s one that we look forward to,” said Byrne.
“The fans have been huge over the past few weeks, at home and away, and they’ve played a major role in supporting the players on the pitch.
“It does not go unnoticed and we hope to have an exceptional crowd on Sunday.”