Hull hope Cup will kick-start stalling league form

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The Independent Football

Hull head into tonight's FA Cup match with Sheffield United hoping a win can revitalise their Premier League campaign.

The fifth-round replay at the KC Stadium is perhaps a game the Tigers could do without given the importance of Sunday's league visit of Blackburn.

Phil Brown's men are just six points above 18th-placed Rovers, having played a game more. With that in mind, Brown is likely to make a number of changes for the Blades tie but the club claim the FA Cup remains an important factor in their season for two reasons.

Hull have not played in the quarter-finals since 1971 and reaching the last eight would lift spirits and raise hopes of another Wembley visit following on from last year's play-off success. Also, Brown hopes any players left out of the side will then be suitably fired up for the return to league action.

"If I was a footballer and I was left out tomorrow night, I'd be aggrieved," said Brown's No 2, Brian Horton. "I'd want to play. I wouldn't even be thinking about playing Blackburn, I'd want to be out there in front of a packed house playing in a cup tie.

"Any game you are involved in as a player, manager, coach, you want to win. There is plenty of recovery time before Blackburn."

Hull's league predicament has come into sharper focus following their defeat to Tottenham on Monday night when Jonathan Woodgate headed home with five minutes remaining.

Hull have won just once in their last 17 league games but Horton insists there is no negativity in the camp.

"If we play as well as we did on Monday night, we are well capable of beating Sheffield United," he added. "They've got the same predicament. They need to get back into the Premier League, so do they play their strongest team?

"They probably fancied beating us at Bramall Lane. They gave us everything they'd got and we didn't get the breaks. But they got a good result and, while it wasn't a fantastic game of football it was a good cup tie. I'm sure it will be a good cup tie again."