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A look ahead at the weekend's football

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Wilcox looking to keep confidence high

This weekend's big game in League Two sees second placed Scunthorpe United at home to leaders Chesterfield.

Chesterfield have won their last three in the league, while Scunthorpe have drawn their last four.

However, Scunthorpe are still unbeaten since Russ Wilcox took over 13 games ago, and he insists that confidence hasn't suffered:

Clough hoping cup form carries over to league

After the euphoric highs of an FA Cup win at Fulham on Tuesday, it's back to the harsh realities of League 1 survival for Sheffield United tomorrow.

They take on Shrewsbury at Bramall Lane fresh from their last minute winner at Craven Cottage in the week.

But with the Blades second bottom in League 1 and just a point behind tomorrow's opponents, manager Nigel Clough hopes they can carry their cup form into the league:

Bruce braced for homecoming hostility

Steve Bruce believes Sunderland fans would be playing into Hull's hands if they focused their efforts on making his return to the Stadium of Light an uncomfortable one.

Bruce is expecting hostility at the Stadium of Light Credit: Press Association

Bruce was sacked as Black Cats boss in November 2011, leaving the club with few supporters in the stands.

His lifelong allegiance with rivals Newcastle may not have helped, but his assertion that it scuppered his reign from the start did not go down well with the Sunderland faithful either.

He is braced for hostility when he takes the Tigers to Wearside on Saturday, but feels that could make life easier for his players.

Although a childhood Magpies fan, Bruce was booed when he took Hull to Newcastle earlier this season - an inevitable consequence of his Sunderland past, but also a milder version that he expects at the weekend.

While Sunderland fans will surely oblige Bruce by casting him as the villain of the day, he is less interested in the subject that he once was.

Aluko returns to Hull attack

Hull could have Sone Aluko back for the first time since October when they make the trip to Sunderland.

Aluko could make a return for Hull Credit: Press Association

The forward has been restricted to just eight appearances this season due to an Achilles problem but is pushing for a place on the bench having played an hour for the reserves.

Steve Harper will continue in goal as Allan McGregor serves the second match of a three-game suspension, while James Chester (hamstring) is the only injury absentee.

Provisional squad: Harper, Jakupovic, McShane, Davies, Bruce, Huddlestone, Rosenior, Elmohamady, Meyler, Brady, Long, Jelavic, Quinn, Boyd, Figueroa, Fryatt, Koren, Faye, Sagbo, Aluko..


Smith back after ban

Leeds striker, Matt Smith, will be available for Saturday's trip to Yeovil.

Smith is available for Leeds against Yeovil Credit: Press Association

The big target-man is back after serving a three match ban for his red card during Leeds' 6-0 hammering to rivals Sheffield Wednesday in January.

Bruce demands focus in fight for survival

Steve Bruce wants his Hull side to "stay with it" as the battle for Barclays Premier League survival intensifies.

Bruce is demanding focus from his side Credit: Press Association

When City beat Fulham 6-0 on December 28, the word relegation could not have been further from the minds of those at the KC Stadium.

A winless and goalless January in the Premier League has sharpened minds, though, and Tottenham will arrive in East Yorkshire on Saturday to face a side with just one win from their last 10 top-flight games.

Steve Harper is in line to start against Spurs Credit: Press Association

Narrow defeats at Norwich and Crystal Palace have not helped, but Bruce, a veteran of several dogfights over the years, is keeping a cool head.

Bruce was clearly wounded by the 1-0 loss to Palace, which came at an even greater cost with goalkeeper Allan McGregor being sent off late on.

He will be unable to face Spurs, nor will midfielder Jake Livermore, who is on loan from White Hart Lane.

Bruce has denied Livermore is being recalled by his parent club and spoke about the situation with an assurance he has maintained throughout the January transfer window.

Livermore is staying with Hull, but ineligible to play against Spurs Credit: Press Association

Having signed strikers Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long a fortnight ago, his business has long been done and, barring the possible departures of Danny Graham - himself a Sunderland loanee - and Jack Hobbs, Bruce is pleased to have got everything completed in good time.

With McGregor suspended, Steve Harper will start in goal, while Stephen Quinn should replace Livermore in midfield.

Bruce saw his side narrowly beaten the last time they played Tottenham - a hotly-debated penalty winning it - but it will be a different Spurs side that take to the field on Saturday.

Jelavic is set for his home debut Credit: Press Association

Tim Sherwood has replaced Andre Villas-Boas at the helm and brought with him a new, all-out attacking style which has served him relatively well so far.

The system failed in a 5-1 loss to Manchester City on Wednesday, but Bruce is reading little into that.

"Anybody who plays Manchester City loses 5-1 or 4-1," he said.

Jelavic and Long are set for their home debuts and Robbie Brady (groin) is in contention as Hull go in search of a first home win over Tottenham since October 1977.

Harper to take advantage of McGregor seeing red

Steve Harper will start in goal for Hull as Tottenham head to the KC Stadium, with regular stopper Allan McGregor ruled out through suspension after his red card at Crystal Palace.

Steve Harper is in line to start against Spurs Credit: Press Association

Manager Steve Bruce can also count on Robbie Brady (groin) if needs be, with Maynor Figueroa (muscle problem) also available to play if required. Strike duo Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long are poised for home debuts.

Midfielder Stephen Quinn is in line to start in midfield as Jake Livermore, on loan from Spurs, is unable to face his parent club. Sone Aluko (Achilles) is expected to feature in a reserve game next week as he continues his comeback.

Provisional squad: Harper, Jakupovic, McShane, Davies, Bruce, Huddlestone, Rosenior, Elmohamady, Meyler, Long, Jelavic, Quinn, Boyd, Figueroa, Fryatt, Koren, Faye, Graham, Sagbo.

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