Only ten games stand between Hull City and an immediate return to the championship. Game number 37 is in Shrewsbury Town this weekend.

Against a backdrop of negativity, criticism and general apathy, Grant McCann has mastered a propensity for advancement that few realistically expected when the League One season kicked off at Gillingham in early September.

Despite a rocky string of results in February, the Tigers have taken five straight wins to clear at the top and while closest challengers Peterborough United and Sunderland have games in hand, promotion remains firmly in the hands of McCann’s men .

They know that if they run in successfully, the job is complete and they make sure that their stay in the top division is as short as possible.

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So what can the Tigers expect in the next seven weeks, Hull Live takes a closer look …

Shrewsbury Town (A) – March 20th

This weekend, City under boss Steve Cotterill can claim six straight wins against a resurgent side. A 1-0 win at KCOM Stadium in December was fully deserved and so has progressed over the past few months. A 2-2 draw at Charlton last weekend disappointed them.

Relegation is no longer the problem it was, and while the play-offs are out of reach and the recovering manager is watching from home, the chance of finishing a league double over City will be enough fuel for the fire.

Gillingham (H) – March 27

A game that always looked difficult given the way Steve Evans worked has been made doubly difficult.

The Tigers have to do without the influential duo Josh Magennis and Gavin Whyte, both of whom are on international duty with Northern Ireland. A nice 3-0 win in Lincoln City on Tuesday night put the Gills in the top six to two points. So you can be sure that Evans will get his side going.

Hull City’s Josh Magennis is congratulated after scoring his side’s second goal at Gillingham

Crewe Alexandra (A) – April 2nd

After Crewe flirted with the top 6 at times this season, his form has waned a bit with three wins in the last twelve years, although the Alex are a different beast at home.

David Artell’s side are fifth in the home table after winning nine of their 18 on Gresty Road but were surprisingly beaten 3-0 by resurgent Burton Albion over the weekend.

Northampton Town (H) – April 5th

Another team that decided to change managers during the season. Keith Curle was eliminated and Jon Brady took command of Sixfields.

The Cobblers are another battle for their lives, and while this isn’t an easy Easter Monday getaway after losing 10 of their 18 on the street, this is a game City really needs to take care of.

Plymouth Argyle (A) – April 10th

Argyle under Ryan Lowe did well earlier this season at KCOM in their first season in the premier division following promotion last season.

Five consecutive defeats have destroyed virtually any remaining hope the pilgrims have of reaching the top six, and a trip to Home Park is a city to look forward to.

Load survey

We’re in the last 10: Will Hull City be promoted automatically?


Yes, this is going to be our year
Too close to call
Luck will conspire against us, so no

Fleetwood Town (H) – April 17th

So these paths cross again.

Since we haven’t met enough this season, this appears to be the fourth and final meeting of the campaign.

Despite FA Cup and Papa John’s wins over the Cod Army this season, you can’t help but feel like the Tigers still owe them one more for the 4-1 Highbury start of the season.

Sunderland (H) – April 20

In terms of teams left to play, this is hands down the standout game that will last until the end of the campaign and almost certainly one to be broadcast on television. This is what it means.

Lee Johnson’s Black Cats are in shape, five points behind City on Wednesday night in Accrington, just days after they beat Salford in the Papa John’s Trophy at Wembley.

Sunderland still has two games left at the Tigers, but this last week of the season fight could be just that.

Lincoln City (A) – April 24th

There have been as many twists and turns this season as this overused cliché says, and there are sure to be many more in the last few weeks.

The loss of form in Lincoln City, however, was severe and alarming for boss Michael Appleton.

Three losses in five, including 2-0 and 3-0 home losses to Rochdale and Gillingham last week, have left them clearly out of step in the race for automatic promotion.

A visit to Sincil Bank for the Tigers’ penultimate away trip this season is gratifying, but time will not realize its importance until the end of next month.

Wigan Athletic (H) – May 1st

It would be almost poetic if City could win promotion by knocking Wigan out of the way in their final home game of the regular season.

In view of the events at DW Stadium last season and the importance of this defeat, the possibility of sealing the safe retreat to the second division against the Latics is remarkable, although there is still a lot of water to pass under the bridge beforehand.

And Wigan, strengthened by the recent takeover, will almost certainly be desperate for the items that will stamp their safety.

Charlton Athletic (A) – May 8th

That final day in the capital always felt that this could be a pivotal occasion and one between two clubs that feel their magic at this level should only be temporary.

Charlton’s fine comeback from 2-0 against Bristol Rovers 3-2 midweek has rekindled their play-off hopes, and Thursday’s appointment of former city favorite Nigel Adkins only added to the strength of the plot.

McCann will hopelessly hope the advertising business is over when London calls, and this game is nothing more than the 46th encore.

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