THE BIG MATCH
Hull City are looking for automatic promotion from the npower Championship this weekend and it could already be in the bag by the time they travel to relegation-threatened Barnsley on Saturday - or they could wrap it up at Oakwell.
The Tigers are currently four points ahead of third-placed Watford with both teams having two games left, so they will watch and wait on Friday night as the Hornets go to seventh-placed Leicester City needing at least a point to keep their top-two hopes alive, though if they do pick something up then all Hull need to do on Saturday is match that return and second, and promotion, is theirs.
As for Barnsley, they remain deep in trouble and are second from bottom on 51 points. A draw or more for fifth-bottom Huddersfield Town at already-relegated Bristol City, coupled with a win for third-bottom Peterborough United at home to sixth-bottom Sheffield Wednesday, will leave the Tykes needing at least a draw against Hull to give themselves a chance of staying up as their goal difference is far worse than Posh's.
Tykes goalkeeper Luke Steele told the Sheffield Star: "There's three of us on 51 points [including third-bottom Wolverhampton Wanderers], but we're confident going into the next two games.
"It's nice to have a home game coming up. It's massive. I can't wait for it. If we were winning every game and I didn't have anything to do, I'd be happy. But as someone who loves playing in goal and making saves, well, I enjoy it."
So the pressure could be all off Hull come 3pm on Saturday and they could already be back in the Premier League, depending on Watford's result on Friday night.
Not that boss Steve Bruce is even slightly concerned with how the Hornets fare and will be quite content for his players to finish the job themselves.
He told www.hullcityafc.net: "We've got ourselves into a position where we can go to Barnsley on Saturday and win promotion, and we'll be better than we were on Friday [a 0-0 draw at home to Bristol City] because, for sure, we can't be any worse.
"We're in a wonderful position and it's important that we stay positive. We're four points ahead, there's two games left and we need to win one of them. Who wouldn't have taken that a month ago let alone at the start of the season?
"We've got to get it in our minds that we have to go to Barnsley and get a result. If we can do that then we're promoted. Forget about what Watford do, it's all about us."
KEEP AN EYE ON
Given its importance to the rest of the npower Championship season, looking beyond that Friday night clash between Leicester City and Watford is impossible.
And that is because it affects not just the race for automatic promotion but the Play-Off situation too, as Leicester are looking to get back in to the top six while Watford will have their place in the end of season shoot-out confirmed if they don't take at least a point, and even then their fate can be sealed on Saturday.
The Foxes start the penultimate weekend of the season in seventh place, a point adrift of Bolton Wanderers in sixth, and a draw would see the two teams swap places due to Leicester's better goal difference, while a win would see Nigel Pearson's men move up to fifth prior to the Saturday fixtures.
Pearson told www.lcfc.com: "We've got two games left and we've got to try and win both of them. The next one is Watford and clearly our focus is on trying to get three points against them. It gives us the incentive of being able to put pressure on other teams around us.
"We've got to try and keep our focus on the job in hand. This stage of the season adds a bit of pressure to everybody, it's just about dealing with that. We're looking forward to the game and as I say the players are working hard and seem confident with themselves, and I think that's important."
Watford's swashbuckling style this season will see them end the campaign as the Championship's leading scorers with their current tally of 82 far better than anyone else in the division.
And they hope to end 2012/13 with the ultimate prize of a place in the Premier League - either by finishing in the top two, though that particular destiny is out of their hands, or by winning the Play-Offs.
Swiss midfielder Almen Abdi told www.watfordfc.com: "It's our last chance. Leicester are a good team with a lot of quality, but they're not in such great form. I don't know why. It won't be easy though, that's for sure. It never is in the Championship.
"It will be tough until the last minute. Little details can change the game, but if we put them under pressure, we have good chance of winning.
"There are two games left, we are up against a strong opposition. It's a difficult place to play. We're confident after the 4-0 win against Blackburn though, and we'll give everything over the 90 minutes, and hopefully we can take three points to put pressure on Hull."
ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION
Outside of the automatic promotion race, the only other npower Championship issue that can be settled this weekend is more teams qualifying for the Play-Offs.
We already know that either Watford or Hull City will be taking one of the positions, and on Saturday Brighton and Hove Albion can secure their place if they pick up all three points away to Leeds United, who are in 13th.
Brighton's ability to confirm a Play-Off place is entirely down to them, and the other two teams currently occupying one of the qualifying positions can all join them, but they would need other results to go in their favour.
Crystal Palace are fifth at the moment on 67 points so a win away to Blackburn Rovers would move them on to 70. That would be enough if both Leicester City and Nottingham Forest fail to take maximum points in their matches.
Bolton Wanderers are a point further back in sixth so they would only confirm their spot if they collected all three points away to champions Cardiff City, along with Leicester losing and Forest not winning.
Billy Davies' Forest are eighth, a point behind the Foxes, and travel to Millwall on Saturday. Then the two East Midlands rivals meet on the final day at the City Ground.
Charlton Athletic in ninth and Birmingham City in 10th can both still mathematically reach the Play-Offs but it would take an unlikely turn of events. Charlton head to 12th-placed Middlesbrough on Saturday, while Birmingham are at Ipswich Town, who are 14th.
It is still tight at the bottom and the four teams currently on 55 points, four clear of the relegation zone, can all confirm their safety with a win.
Burnley in 16th go to Wolverhampton Wanderers, then come Blackpool who host 11th-placed Derby County, Millwall and their game with Forest, and Sheffield Wednesday who go to Peterborough United.
Posh are fourth from bottom on 51 points, level with Wolves and Barnsley but out of the relegation area only on goal difference.
Between Posh and the Owls are Huddersfield Town, who occupy 20th place with 54 points, and will be looking to make the most of their visit to already-relegated Bristol City.
No teams can be mathematically relegated this weekend but defeats for any of those still in trouble, especially if other results go against them, could prove costly.
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