Hull ready for crucial relegation clash

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The Independent Football

Hull boss Iain Dowie insists his side will only be focused on their own performance when they face Burnley in their crucial relegation clash at the KC Stadium tomorrow.

The Tigers are currently a point adrift of 17th-placed West Ham with a game in hand, although their goal difference is significantly inferior to Gianfranco Zola's side.

Burnley are three points behind the Yorkshire club in 19th and Dowie wants his players to make sure they turn in a winning performance against Brian Laws' side.

He said: "It's about what we do, it's very, very important we concentrate on the group of players we have and how we can beat Burnley on Saturday.

"We've got to concentrate on what we do right.

"If we come out on top, the result will take care of itself.

"You have to be very careful talking about oppositions - I cannot control what Brian Laws' team do, what I can control is how we stop Brian's team playing.

"We're at the stage of the season where things can happen and as a result we must treat Burnley with exactly the same respect as if it was Manchester United coming to town."

Laws has been forced to deny he has had disagreements with several members of his squad.

Laws called midfielder Kevin MacDonald "an idiot" at his pre-match press conference after he walked out of Turf Moor at half-time after being substituted during the 6-1 defeat to Manchester City.

MacDonald apologised for his actions on Tuesday. But there have been rumours of disagreements with Clarke Carlisle and Robbie Blake - who is also thought to have reacted badly to being substituted at half-time against City - but the manager denied there had been any bust-ups.

"I can't influence what's going on on the outside," Laws said.

"If people are putting rumours around like that, there is nothing I can do about it, other than to say that there has been no bust-up whatsoever.

"Obviously we have had a problem with McDonald, but there was nothing to do with Robbie at all.

"Robbie and I get on really well, there is no question about that, so end of story."

West Ham face Sunderland in tomorrow's other game with the Hammers desperate to follow up their battling performance at Everton, which saw them earn a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, by picking up more points in their bid to avoid the drop.

And Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has paid tribute to under-fire Hammers' boss Gianfranco Zola, who had considered his future in the wake of their sixth straight league defeat against Stoke almost a fortnight ago.

Bruce told the Sunderland website, "In football management people do speculate about your job and that's one thing you have to deal with.

"It's bad enough dealing with it privately if you think you're going to get the bullet, let alone publicly. It's humiliating.

"The way he's conducted himself is typical Gianfranco. I wish him the best of luck."