McCarthy urges Wolves to disregard derby hype

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The Independent Football

Mick McCarthy has called on Wolverhampton Wanderers to "play the game and not the occasion" for tonight's Championship Black Country derby against West Bromwich Albion at Molineux.

Saturday's 0-0 draw with Bristol City has left Wolves three points adrift of the play-offs but with two games in hand over many of their rivals.

A point would take West Bromwich back to the top of the table, but McCarthy believes his players can shrug off the hype and dent their neighbours' automatic promotion hopes.

"We're masters of our own destiny," McCarthy said. "I've said before that I'd rather be playing teams around us in the table rather than a relegated team who can come here with the pressure off and play free-flowing football.

"The games against Albion have been ultra-competitive and very good football matches, with no bad feeling spilling over.

"There will be a fabulous atmosphere and this is a vital game for both clubs."

Karl Henry misses out for Wolves after failing to recover from the knee injury that kept him sidelined for the draw with City.

The West Bromwich goalkeeper, Dean Kiely, will put friendship to one side as his team strive for a return to the Premier League after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Watford saw them lose top spot to Stoke City.

Kiely is good friends with the Wolves defender Gary Breen, but he is determined to get the better of his former Republic of Ireland team-mate.

"We're good mates but the banter has already started," the 37-year-old said. "Tuesday is a big game, regardless of what happened on Saturday."

Martin Albrechtsen returned to training yesterday after recovering from a groin injury and could make the squad while manager Tony Mowbray may use top scorer Kevin Phillips, who netted four times against Wolves last season, off the bench.

In tonight's other match, Hull City travel to Barnsley, who are looking to make it three wins in a row in their battle to avoid relegation.

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