Grant McCann knows promotion-rivals Portsmouth will provide a “tough challenge” but says his players are ready to meet it head on.
The table-topping Tigers are one point ahead of third-placed Pompey, who won the reverse fixture 2-0 at the KCOM a month ago, thanks to two own goals.
Hull City are unbeaten since that game, a run of five matches in league and cup, while Kenny Jackett’s men have kept six consecutive league clean sheets.
“It’ll be a tough challenge,” said McCann. “You saw the game a few weeks ago at the KCOM, two good teams going head-to-head.
“We felt we did OK in the game and were probably the better team, the team in the ascendancy.
“We didn’t test them too much in the game – they didn’t test us either. Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end of the result on two set-plays, two own goals.
“They’re in a great place, Portsmouth, in terms of the way they’re performing at this present time.
“They haven’t conceded a goal for six games so it’s going to be a tough challenge for us, but we’ll look to meet it head on.
“We’re in a good place ourselves, given the last five results since the turn of the year. The boys are looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“From the turn of the year, we’ve had a tough run of fixtures – Charlton, Sunderland, Blackpool, Accrington, now Portsmouth.
“We’ve started it quite well and we’ll be looking to build on that.”
Asked what he wants his team to improve on from the last meeting, McCann said: “Be clinical, make sure we test their keeper more, make sure we defend set-plays better.
“We scored a couple of own goals but I think we’ve addressed that.
“We came up against a team in Accrington who are huge, with three or four players over 6’4”. The boys manfully defended their box excellently and threw their bodies on the line.
“We’re going to need the same again at Fratton Park because Portsmouth are dangerous at things like that.
“They’re an experienced team so it’s a big challenge, one we’re looking forward to.”
As the season reaches its halfway point, just three points separate the division’s top five teams.
McCann isn’t surprised by the league’s congested nature, highlighting the size and stature of a number of its clubs.
“It’s a very difficult division,” McCann commented.
“There are seven or eight ex-Premier League teams. When you think of it like that, it tells you there are some big teams in this division.
“It’s not easy. Every game has different challenges, every game is different.
“There are probably 12 teams with a realistic chance of promotion – maybe more.
“We’d love to go on a run and continue what we’ve done over the last five games and put ourselves in a more comfortable position. But we realise that’s not easy. It’s what everyone wants but it’s not easy.”