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Hull preview

A trip to the KC stadium marks the beginning of an important little spell where we play three time times in the Premier League and once in the FA Cup in little over a week and a half that could help shape the remainder of the season.

We are currently a solitary point of fourth spot, but have two games in hand and the sides around us face some tricky fixtures this weekend (the Merseyside derby and a match-up between Tottenham and Aston Villa). Following the Hull game, we host Bolton before facing a pair of games against Stoke and it is not too much of a stretch to suggest a maximum return is the expectation.

There are some interesting statistics surrounding the game tomorrow; paticularly centred around Hull's recent form. They are without a win in their last ten league games yet have only lost once in their past nine home fixtures - and earned an impressive point at home to Chelsea in midweek. Hull also 'lead' the league in goals conceded in the last ten minutes of a game, with ten goals allowed. As for ourselves, whilst our home form continues to be excellent, away from home we haven't really got over our poor form from last season and whilst I'm sure most are anticipating victory tomorrow it isn't with a huge degree of confidence.

Hull, I don't think, will spring too many surprises either in terms of personnel or formation.Their hard work and energy resulted in a point at Eastlands earlier in the season, but they will be without Jimmy Bullard for this fixture and a lot will rest on the Stephen Hunt.

Both Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards are ruled out tomorrow, with Joleon Lescott pushing for a return although he may have to be content with a spot on the bench. Wayne Bridge however looks set to return to the side. The big question though concerns Patrick Vieira and whether he can make a belated debut. Roberto Mancini has been praising him this week (suggesting his presence may have altered the outcome at both Everton and United) and there is no doubt he will add something to the midfield if he starts. Gareth Barry - struggling for form and fitness of late - appears the likely candidate for a spell on the bench to accomdate Vieira.

It will certainly test Mancini tomorrow, and his two defeats so far in charge have come away from home. He has though shown a willingness to adopt different formations and his in-game changes have largely been impressive. I'd back him to out manoevre Phil Brown tomorrow and although it will be a tight game we will come through with a 2-1 victory.