STEVE EVANS says the fact Hull City have already sealed a play-off spot will make no difference to the home side’s motivation in Saturday’s Championship clash at the KC.
The Tigers are guaranteed a place in the end-of-season shoot-out and look to have little chance of finishing in the top two given that second-placed Burnley and Brighton, in third, are eight points ahead of them with four games left to play, of which one is a game in hand.
But Evans insists Hull boss Steve Bruce will be desperate to take his men into the play-offs on an upward curve and that Saturday’s hosting of rivals Leeds is the one remaining game they will want to win the most.
Eleventh-placed United are as big as 15-2 to record a ‘surprise’ victory but United have won three games in a row and Evans is calling for his men to do both the club crest and travelling support proud.
Asked if the guarantee of a play-off place might change Hull’s approach, Evans reasoned: “I don’t think it will take any focus away as you have to go into a play-off campaign in good form and getting good results, otherwise you go in with an air of despondency and doom and gloom.
“Steve Bruce will want to make sure his boys are firing when they go in there and of the clubs they have got left to play, we are certainly the one club they would want to have a good performance against.
“I think the only dynamic it changes is an excellent manager has the option whether to freshen his side up.
“I know he made four changes for going down to Reading on Tuesday and it’s whether he sticks with the changes or changes it around again because they have another quick match next Tuesday. It’s going to be tough and that’s where our focus needs to be. We will take another magnificent travelling support – they are just incredible – and we want to do them and this badge justice.”
United did just that in this season’s home clash against Hull when first-half goals from Chris Wood and Tom Adeyemi laid the platform for a 2-1 victory in December. Leeds then had to survive a second-half onslaught from the Tigers, who pulled a goal back six minutes after the break through Ahmed Elmohamady.
“It was clearly a game of two halves,” said Evans. “We were probably disappointed to be only 2-0 ahead at the interval but very grateful that it finished 2-1 in the end. Hull City got an early goal in the second half and laid siege to our goal really.
“We had a bit of good fortune and a bit of poor finishing on their behalf. A bit of heroic defending and good goalkeeping got us a win.
“But at half-time I can remember from 50 yards away Steve’s half-time talk. He got a reaction and that’s what I expect when Steve Bruce talks.”
Evans has a full squad to pick from aside from Adeyemi, who has again been struck by the virus that has caused recent problems at Leeds. Alex Mowatt serves the third game of a three-match ban whilst Souleymane Doukara is also still suspended for biting. Evans added: “We might have won three games in a row but our sole focus and thoughts are on Saturday against one of the best teams in the league and certainly a manager who I hold in the highest regard.”