THE BIG MATCH

Promotion from the npower Championship is something only a select few teams can dream of at this stage of the season and on Saturday two of those right in the thick of the race go head-to-head.

Hull City host Nottingham Forest at the KC Stadium, the two teams second and sixth respectively, with the visitors in the Championship's best current form.

For Steve Bruce's Tigers, however, it's all about keeping up their good sequence of results - six wins in their last nine - and ensuring they maintain the pressure on the teams around them as they start the weekend four points adrift of leaders Cardiff City and two clear of third-placed Watford.

Forward Jay Simpson told www.hullcityafc.net: "It's often said that there's no such thing as an easy game at this level though and never has a truer word been spoken.

"We've got a difficult game against Nottingham Forest on Saturday. They've been in great form of late since Billy Davies returned to the club and I'm sure they'll be looking to secure promotion to the Premier League themselves this season.

"It's another tough test but it's one we're all relishing. We want to secure another three points on home soil and go into the forthcoming international break on a high with back-to-back victories and occupying second place."

Forest's re-appointment of Billy Davies as manager has seen them win their last five matches to move up to sixth, the last of the Play-Off positions, with a one-point cushion over the chasing pack.

Davies' undoubted aim is to take the City Ground club into the Premier League after successive Play-Off semi-final failures in 2010 and 2011.

And the manager told www.nottinghamforestfc.co.uk: "The one thing I don't need to do with this group [of players] is motivate them.

"They know what position they're in, they know the run that they're on, they know the confidence they've got, they know the challenges that lie ahead and what they need to do to go one stage further.

"They're ready and they will give us their very best. This will be a difficult game for us, but it will also be a difficult one for Hull."

An interesting side-note is that Bruce and Davies both won promotion from the Championship in 2007, Bruce guiding Birmingham City to second place while Davies won the Play-Offs with Derby County.

KEEP AN EYE ON

You don't have to look too far for the most important game at the other end of the npower Championship table where nobody wants to be, as Wolverhampton Wanderers host Bristol City.

Wolves are second from bottom while their visitors are at the foot, although both clubs - along with third-bottom Peterborough United - are locked together on 39 points, two adrift of the safety mark.

For Wolves it's an opportunity to pick up only their second win under Dean Saunders, and a first home win since December, with Saunders playing up the importance of this fixture for his side.

He told www.wolves.co.uk: "This is a six-pointer - we have to win this game because if we don't they jump above us and we'll have another team to get past.

"We're level on points with them [Bristol City] so it will make a big difference if we win on Saturday.

"That would mean they would have to get two good results to go above us."

City, on the other hand, are in reasonable form at the moment with a run of four games unbeaten and only three defeats in their last 10, but they have been unable to drag themselves away from the danger zone.

They have also kept clean sheets in their last three games so go to Molineux with confidence but whereas Saunders is building this match up, Robins boss Sean O'Driscoll has played down his counterpart's comments.

He told www.bcfc.co.uk: "Do you get six points for winning the game? No. It's three points on offer.

"You've got 46 games in a season and you want to win as many of them as you can. I don't think you can label it must-win.

"We're just focusing on the things we've been doing well recently and not really letting the talk of the game affect the players.

"They have quality individuals, many of them having played in the top division. But we're treating it like any other away game."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Sunday can very much be classed as derby day in the npower Championship with two fixtures taking place between teams who have fierce rivalries.

The action gets going at 12noon as Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace, two of the teams in the thick of the promotion race, meet on the South Coast.

It isn't the most local of derbies - 43 miles separate the two clubs - but it is an intense occasion whenever the sides meet, especially with vital points at stake.

Palace begin the weekend fourth on 65 points, three outside the top two and six clear of Leicester City in fifth, while Brighton are seventh on 56 points, just one adrift of the Play-Off places.

The other match kicks off half an hour later in Lancashire as Burnley make the 15-mile journey across to Blackburn Rovers.

The hosts are 16th and without a win in six as they look to snap out of a run that has seen them just six points clear of the relegation zone, while Burnley are 11th and have only won one of their last nine fixtures.

Cardiff City continue to lead the way at the top of the Championship but their advantage has eroded to four points, albeit with a game in hand, and on Saturday the Welsh side go to Sheffield Wednesday, who are 19th and four points clear of the relegation zone.

Third are Watford on 66 points and they are also on the road to South Yorkshire with their task a trip to Barnsley, who are two places and two points behind the Owls in the battle to avoid the drop.

Fifth at the start of play on Saturday will be Leicester City, who are in local derby action away to East Midlands rivals Derby County in the evening's televised fixture.

The Foxes have a two-point advantage over sixth-placed Nottingham Forest so could be overhauled by the time they kick-off, while Derby are 15th, without a win in eight and six points clear of the relegation zone.

This is the fifth successive Derby-Leicester meeting to be televised with the Foxes having won the last four.

Within striking distance of the Play-Off places are Bolton Wanderers, eighth on 54 points, a remarkable turnaround given their mid-season struggles and they also face one of the strugglers away from home - Ipswich Town, who are level on points with Sheffield Wednesday but behind on goal difference.

Level on points with Bolton, albeit with an inferior goal difference, are Middlesbrough and they are in home action against 14th-placed Birmingham City.

Elsewhere, third-bottom Peterborough head to 13th-placed Blackpool.

And, just for good measure, Saturday's remaining two fixtures are also local derbies - 10th-placed Leeds United, five points adrift of the Play-Offs, at home to 18th-placed Huddersfield Town, five points clear of the relegation zone, and 12th-placed Charlton Athletic hosting Millwall, who are 17th.

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