Everton-Hull City Preview

The Associated Press

Hull City and Everton will both have cause to celebrate when they meet in Sunday's season-ending clash at the KC Stadium.

Hull (10-7-20), with 37 points from 37 matches, have retained their top-flight status after a nervy, long-drawn-out battle against the drop and have already recorded their highest points total in the Premier League. The Tigers have also won through to the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 17, when they will play top-four club Arsenal. Even if Hull are beaten by the Gunners, they are assured of a place in next season's Europa League.

The Tigers lost their last two league matches and have claimed only one victory in seven.

They were beaten 3-1 at Manchester United on Tuesday and manager Steve Bruce will be anxious for his side to return to their winning ways ahead of their cup clash with the Gunners.

Bruce admits he plans to reshuffle his squad as players return from injury and other make claims for a place at Wembley.

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor (shoulder) and defender Paul McShane (ankle) are pushing for returns from medium to long-term injuries along with forward Sone Aluko (ankle), who has missed two games.

"What I'll do on Sunday will be similar to what I did against Manchester United," said Bruce. "I'll let a few have a bit of a break and I'll get some football into people who come into the equation - people like (striker) Matty Fryatt.

"We're waiting on McGregor and Aluko and they've got a couple of big days today and tomorrow, and also McShane as well. There's plenty of things whirring around in my mind at the moment as we look to pick the right formula."

Everton (20-9-8) are fifth in the standings on 69 points and like Hull have also secured their highest points total in the Premier League as well as a place in next season's Europa League.

The Merseysiders lost three of their last four league matches, including last weekend's 3-2 home defeat by Premier League title favourites Manchester City. The end of their Champions League chase has left manager Roberto Martinez targeting a last-day victory not only to finish with a flourish but also reward Everton's traveling supporters.

"The last game of the season is in front of our away fans, who have been sensational," Martinez told his club's official website. "We want to thank them for their efforts and the way they have been allowing us to be at ease in every away ground.

"The performance has to be for them and we are well aware that Hull will try to prepare for the game knowing they then have to prepare for the FA Cup final as well. It's going to be an interesting game and we want to finish the season as strongly as we can."

Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar could return after 10 games out with a knee injury, while striker Lacina Traore is expected to feature after recovering from a hamstring problem.

The Toffees beat Hull 2-1 at Goodison Park in October. Gareth Barry put the hosts in front after eight minutes, only to see that cancelled out by Yannick Sagbo at the half-hour mark. Pienaar scored the winner just before the hour mark.

Hull's record against Everton is not good - having won just once in their five Premier League meetings.

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