Derby boss Darren Wassall: Hull are favourites for play-off semi-final

Derby head coach Darren Wassall thinks Hull are the favourites heading into the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final between the two sides.

Derby: Derby boss Darren Wassall: Hull are favourites for play-off semi-finalDerby: Derby boss Darren Wassall: Hull are favourites for play-off semi-final

That is despite the Rams doing the league double over Steve Bruce’s team, including a comprehensive 4-0 win at the iPro Stadium just last month.

However, as Hull prepare to return to the scene of that defeat for Saturday lunchtime’s first leg, Wassall has played down the significance of Derby’s victories and instead pointed to factors which he thinks gives the Tigers the upper hand.

“It shows that if we’re at our best then we’re capable of beating Hull, but I think the fact we’ve beat them twice this season might make them more determined to make amends,” said Wassall, who in February was promoted from academy director to take charge of the first team until the end of the season.

“So they know it will be a really tough game, and we’re under no illusions it’ll be a tough game – they are favourites. They are favourites because they finished above us in the league, they’ve just come down from the Premier League, they’ve got Premier League players – we know it’s going to be a tough ask.

“If you look at recent history, Hull have spent longer in the Premier League than us as we haven’t been there for eight years.

“Steve Bruce is a very experienced manager and he’s been through the play-offs as a coach, or as a manager, before and we have completely full respect for him and his Hull team. I obviously don’t have that experience as I’ve only been in the role for 16 games.

“But we’ll be ready, as we have been for the last few weeks, and we need to keep our performance levels as they have been because coming into the play-offs our form has been quite good.

“We have quality players too and now we have two more games against a very good Hull side and we want to try to make sure we’re involved in a third at Wembley.”

Wassall was rocked by the news last week of George Thorne’s double leg break and he will be the only absentee for Derby.

That means Jeff Hendrick and Bradley Johnson are fit again after their respective thigh and knee injuries and either could take Thorne’s place in central midfield.

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