If the EFL gets its wish and no major obstacles are encountered, the Championship season will resume in just over two weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic has so far brought a three-month interruption but hopes are high that the final nine rounds of fixtures can now be played behind closed doors.

For Hull City that means the resumption of a tense survival fight.

A disastrous run of 11 games without a win has dragged Grant McCann’s side from the fringes of the promotion race and into deep trouble ahead of the proposed restart.

Just one place and two points stand between City and the relegation zone and it will need the current slide to be quickly arrested if the Tigers are to avoid a fall into League One.

Hull City manager Grant McCann (left) watches on alongside his coaching team of Tony Pennock and Cliff Byrne
Hull City manager Grant McCann (left) watches on alongside his coaching team of Tony Pennock and Cliff Byrne

Everything points towards City’s fate being shaped within a week or so of returning to action.

If, as expected, the Championship retains its previous running order, the Tigers will face two hugely significant fixtures either side of an away game up against an opponent with little to fight for.

And for that reason it promises to be the first week of action that is most important to City. A quick start might well be the saving of this season.

Charlton (home)

Games will surely come no bigger than the one that greets City first up.

The fixture that was supposed to be played the day after the EFL took the decision to postpone the season in March sees Charlton arrive at the KCOM Stadium and the stakes could not be higher.

It will be 21st at home to 22nd, with just two points between the struggling teams.

A win for the Tigers would open up a five-point lead over Charlton but defeat would see City fall into the relegation zone for the first time this season.

Charlton Athletic boss Lee Bowyer

That was the stark reality facing McCann’s side ahead of the season being interrupted but the subsequent three months have been kind on City.

Not only will they have a fully fit squad to select from when the action gets back underway, they will host a Charlton side without three players.

Star striker Lyle Taylor, Chris Solly and David Davis have all declared themselves unable for the run-in due to the risk of suffering injury ahead of becoming free agents.

That is an undoubted blow for Charlton, who face an instant return to League One and financial trouble if they are unable to turn the tide in these closing nine games.

City are undoubtedly in a far better place for this fixture than they were three months ago.

Birmingham (away)

Of City’s five remaining away games, there is a case to make this one the most inviting. Trips to West Brom and Bristol City will be tough, as would the clash away to drop rivals Wigan. Cardiff on the final day would also be a stiff test.

Birmingham, meanwhile, will return to action with very little to play for. Nine points adrift of the play-offs and eight above the relegation zone, Blues are one of the few Championship clubs with little on the line.

Form at St Andrews this season has been solid, if not spectacular, and an empty ground would, you suspect, play to City’s advantage.

The big Hull City lockdown interviews

This fixture was initially due to be played midweek and a point would have been a result most City fans would have readily accepted after the drubbing away to Stoke.

Avoiding defeat in the Second City would still be another positive step for McCann’s side and a fully fit squad will help the Tigers cope with what was supposed to be a testing midweek fixture.

Middlesbrough (home)

Given that City’s next two assignments would be West Brom (second) and Bristol City (seventh) away from home, the visit of drop rivals Middlesbrough could be hugely significant.

The two clubs are currently only separated by goal difference with nine games to play, with Middlesbrough jumping above City for the first time this season when winning away to Charlton just before lockdown.

Boro, though, have endured a tough season under Jonathan Woodgate to this point.

Middlesborough head coach Jonathan Woodgate
Middlesborough head coach Jonathan Woodgate

Just nine wins have come from 37 games and, at times, there has been a fragility to a young squad.

City tapped into that when fighting back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at the Riverside earlier this season, albeit heavily reliant on the brilliance of Jarrod Bowen.

The pressures on City this time around will largely depend on how they have performed against Charlton. Far too many defeats have come at the KCOM Stadium this season and not since Christmas have three points been collected in East Yorkshire. That record has to change.

These next three games promise to be enormous for City. Pick up a couple of wins and they will almost be able to reach out and touch survival with another six games to play.

Fail to find that first victory since New Year’s Day, however, and the heat will be sure to rise. That first week back could well be make or break.