After a run of three straight wins was ended by a narrow home defeat at the expense of Reading, Birmingham City return from the international break seeking to move closer to the play-off places.

They are four points adrift of sixth place despite lying fifteenth in the table. Their opponents are Hull City who are finding life in the Championship quite difficult after their promotion in the summer.

They sit three points adrift of safety and have accumulated the most losses in the division (11). Goals are proving hard to come by for The Tigers, especially for striker Malik Wilks who has only found the net once this term, which drastically compares to him topping the charts with twenty-two strikes last season.

Form

The Tigers have only managed one victory in their past six matches. They are losing games narrowly but it is clear that they do not have enough cutting edge to potentially stay in the division.

Their victory at Barnsley was much-needed as they were able to snatch points away from a side below them in the league.

Keane Lewis-Potter was able bag one of the goals in that 2-0 victory. The 20 year-old has four goals and two assists to his name and he has been vital in helping Hull to get results. He has scored nearly half of their goals this season and we are nearly halfway through the campaign. Lewis-Potter himself has been attracting interest from a few Premier League clubs and it is no wonder why.

Hull’s last happy outing on home soil was their 2-0 triumph over Middlesbrough in early October. Two late goals including Wilks’s first of the season saw Grant McCann’s men attain the win.

George Wood/Getty Images Sport

Formation/tactics

Hull City are quite a dynamic and free-flowing team in an offensive sense. McCann’s 4-2-3-1 system allows for as many players as possible to contribute to the attacks.

The Tigers are quick in transition and are strong in winning aerial duels and getting up the pitch as quickly as possible. Midfielder Richie Smallwood who operates in a two-man pivot alongside Greg Docherty is seen arriving late in the box and taking shots on. Although he is not prolific, it is clear that Hull’s midfielders will need to be tracked by our men. Barnsley failed to track Smallwood on multiple occasions in their 2-0 reverse to The Tigers.

Hull’s fullbacks have quite an attacking brain. Lewie Coyle, who is incidentally injured for around twelve weeks always has the instinct to play the ball into the opposition half. In one instance at Barnsley, this instinct created a rapid opening for forward Josh Magennis whose strong hold-up play and first time shot flew just wide.

Hull are comfortable in picking up second balls and this ability will definitely lead to chances in and around the penalty box. For instance, a long throw by left back Callum Elder led to Greg Docherty with a free shot on a loose ball. Barnsley failed to defend strongly, but with Marc Roberts entering some fine form recently in the middle of a back three, he could be the one to lead the visiting defence out of trouble with his ability to cover.

Keane Lewis-Potter is the main dangerman and is someone who has proved to be the crucial source of points this season. He was unmarked as he lashed home a shot from just inside the box against Barnsley. Fail to make Lewis-Potter and you pay the price. He does have a striker’s instinct as well, able to get into the box like he did against Sheffield United in mid-September and finish off deliveries from crosses.

A left-winger by trade, Lewis-Potter has a strong right foot and seems to play anywhere across the forward line. He is more dynamic than forward Josh Magennis and the former’s fluidity makes Magennis’s job easier with runners operating either side of him.

George Wood/Getty Images Sport

Key battle

Whoever plays at right centre back in this fixture will have their hands tied with keeping Lewis-Potter at bay. But Lee Bowyer’s 3-4-1-2 formation allows for those operating on the right flank to increase their defensive duties and double up on Lewis-Potter. The return of Dion Sanderson is most welcome but will give Bowyer a big headache as he will need to decide whether to play him at centre-back or right wing-back where Marcel Oakley struggled in the recent match against Reading. Sanderson’s physicality will be useful against Josh Magennis but his pace would be as key against Lewis-Potter.