Back Boro to beat Leeds
Middlesbrough to beat Leeds is one of the top tips in our preview package for the weekend's Sky Bet Championship action.
The best bets from Nick Hext are here for the weekend's action in the Sky Bet Championship. Match-by-match score verdicts and team news are also now available.
The Dave Hockaday era at Leeds has started with a 2-0 defeat at Millwall in the Sky Bet Championship and a narrow 2-1 victory over Accrington in the Capital One Cup. The Elland Road faithful aren't unanimous in their backing of the former Forest Green boss and a slow start to the season could easily see owner Massimo Cellino take decisive action. The Sky Sports cameras will be in place for Saturday's clash with Middlesbrough and it's all about Aitor Karanka's men for me. I think Boro will be in the play-off mix and they look a much better side than Leeds. The men from the Riverside are well worth backing.
It was a great start to Callum Wilson's Bournemouth career last weekend as his double helped secure a memorable 4-0 victory over Huddersfield. The convincing win for the Cherries has made plenty of people sit up and take notice. Wilson has plenty of pressure on his shoulders after arriving in the summer for big-money from Coventry but now is the time to back the 22-year-old to go on a scoring run.
Team news & score verdicts (league position in brackets)
Saturday, August 16
Defender Gavin Gunning is a worry for Birmingham when they host Brighton after he suffered a knee injury on his debut in the Capital One Cup win over Cambridge in midweek. Fellow new boy David Davis enjoyed a better introduction when voted man of the match by Blues supporters and the former Wolves midfielder will be pushing for a place again. Clayton Donaldson and Mark Duffy also boosted their claims for a starting role after netting in midweek, having come off the bench as second-half substitutes in the league opener at Middlesbrough.
Brighton could welcome back England Under-21 international Solly March, who has yet to play this season due to a back problem. Fellow midfielder Andrew Crofts misses out again as he is halfway through a three-match ban following his red card on the opening day against Sheffield Wednesday. Boss Sami Hyypia must decide whether to restore veteran defender Aaron Hughes to his back four or stick with Lewis Dunk, who stepped in against Cheltenham on Tuesday night and scored the opening goal in Brighton's 2-0 win. Kazenga LuaLua could also return to the starting line-up following fellow winger Will Buckley's switch to Sunderland.
Last season: Brighton 1 Birmingham 0 Birmingham 0 Brighton 1
Top scorers (all competitions): Mark Duffy, Clayton Donaldson and Paul Caddis (Birmingham) 1; Craig Mackail-Smith, Lewis Dunk (Brighton) 1.
Referee: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire)
Our verdict: Birmingham 0 Brighton 1
Jacob Mellis, one of many new faces to arrive at Bloomfield Road this summer, is a doubt for the Lancashire derby with Blackburn after missing Tuesday's Capital One Cup loss to Shrewsbury with an ankle injury. Bobby Grant, who missed the whole of pre-season after suffering a knee injury while on loan at Fleetwood in March, may take up a place on the bench as he looks to make his comeback.
Blackburn summer signing Chris Brown has been hampered by a knee injury over the summer and he could make his first appearance against the Seasiders. A number of the squad overcame a bout of illness last week and manager Gary Bowyer looks to have a near full-strength squad. Loanee Alex Baptiste, who spent five years at Bloomfield Road, is expected to be one of many to be brought back into the team.
Last season: Blackburn 2 Blackpool 0 Blackpool 2 Blackburn 2
Top scorers (all competitions): Tom Cairney (Blackburn) 1.
Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire)
Our verdict: Blackpool 0 Blackburn 3
David Wheater may retain his place after playing in Bolton's Capital One Cup win over Bury. The match was Wheater's first competitive outing since the end of last season and he will rival Tim Ream and Matt Mills for a spot in the starting XI. Dean Moxey lasted just an hour of their 3-0 defeat to Watford last week, leaving the field with an injury, and he will be assessed after missing the midweek clash, where Sky Bet League Two side Bury took them to extra-time. Mark Davies (toe) and Marc Tierney (recovering from a broken leg) are also doubts.
Nottingham Forest defender Michael Mancienne is suspended following his red card at Tranmere in midweek. Mancienne's absence means Jack Hobbs will be asked to start his second game in the space of five days, as he completes his recovery from an ankle problem that saw him sidelined from early February onwards. Fellow centre-halves Kelvin Wilson (calf) and Jamaal Lascelles have both resumed training, with the latter featuring in a reserve-team game on Tuesday. Midfielders Henri Lansbury (knee) and David Vaughan (hamstring) are closing in on returns but this game comes just too soon.
Last season: Bolton 1 Nottingham Forest 1 Nottingham Forest 3 Bolton 0
Top scorers (all competitions): Neil Danns (Bolton) 2; Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest) 2
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)
Our verdict: Bolton 1 Nottingham Forest 1
Cherries boss Eddie Howe is likely to revert to the XI that thrashed Huddersfield 4-0 on the opening day last weekend after giving a chance to some of his fringe players in the midweek Capital One Cup success against Exeter. That means two-goal debutant Callum Wilson will partner Yann Kermorgant with Lee Camp returning in goal. The likes of Matt Ritchie, Tommy Elphick and Charlie Daniels will also return to the fold. Defender Elliott Ward captained the Cherries at Exeter having recovered from a knee injury and will hope to have done enough to keep his place in the squad.
Brentford will check on Tommy Smith (groin) and Niko Yennaris (back) after both limped off during Tuesday's epic 6-6 Capital One Cup draw with Dagenham. Summer signing Scott Hogan is back in training following the ankle injury which has delayed his debut but he is unlikely to be risked. David Button is set to return in goal despite Richard Lee's penalty heroics in the shoot-out win over the Daggers.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Top scorers (all competitions): Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) 2; Stuart Dallas (Brentford) 2
Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey)
Our verdict: Bournemouth 3 Brentford 1
Cardiff rang the changes for their midweek Capital One Cup win over Coventry and could replace the entire starting line-up as defender Juan Cala is available again after suspension and could replace Matt Connolly. Craig Noone remains sidelined as does striker Javi Guerra who has a hip injury and is yet to make his Bluebirds bow.
Huddersfield's new signing Jacob Butterfield hopes to make his debut following his arrival in a deal that saw Adam Clayton move to Middlesbrough. Caretaker boss Mark Lillis could include Butterfield in his starting line-up in his second game in charge, hand fellow midfielder Conor Coady his first league start and recall season-long loan signing Radi Majewski. Winger Adam Hammill and midfielder Jonathan Hogg, among the substitutes for the midweek Capital One Cup win at Chesterfield, are in contention to start. But striker James Vaughan (calf), midfielder Oscar Gobern (toe) and defender Anthony Gerrard (calf) all remain doubtful.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Top scorers (all competitions): Kenwyne Jones, Guido Burgstaller (Cardiff) 1; Nahki Wells (Huddersfield) 3
Referee: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire)
Our verdict: Cardiff 2 Huddersfield 1
Chris Solly and Rhoys Wiggins could return to the Charlton squad. Right-back Solly, whose ongoing knee problem needs constant monitoring, was rested as the Addicks thumped Colchester 4-0 in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday while left-back Wiggins sat out with a knock but has resumed training. Boss Bob Peeters made six changes from the side which drew at Brentford on the opening day so Tal Ben Haim, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Igor Vetokele and Johnnie Jackson will also be hoping to return to the starting line-up. Utility man Lawrie Wilson staked his claim to keep his place with two goals against Colchester.
Wigan will be without long-term injury absentees Ben Watson and Chris McCann. The midfielders were ruled out at the end of last season and neither Watson (broken leg) nor McCann (knee) are set to return just yet while James McClean (ankle) is also sidelined. Honduran Roger Espinoza returned from a back spasm to make his first appearance of the season in their 2-1 loss at Burton in the Capital One Cup, and he may be involved again at the Valley. Callum McManaman, who scored in the Latics' season-opening draw with Reading on Saturday, could return to Uwe Rosler's starting XI, as could Don Cowie, James McArthur and Emyr Huws after they were rested at Burton.
Last season: Wigan 2 Charlton 1 Charlton 0 Wigan 0
Top scorers (all competitions): Lawrie Wilson (Charlton) 2; James McArthur, Marc-Antoine Fortune & Callum McManaman (Wigan) 1.
Referee: Andy D'Urso (Essex)
Our verdict: Charlton 0 Wigan 3
Fulham boss Felix Magath must decide whether to persevere with Ross McCormack ahead of the visit of Millwall. The £11million striker was substituted before the hour mark after a disappointing debut in the 2-1 defeat at Ipswich last weekend, after which Magath claimed he was not yet fully fit. Midfielder Mark Fotheringham could be handed his debut after signing a one-year deal with the Cottagers last Friday. Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg this week joined Monaco while forwards Kostas Mitroglou and Bryan Ruiz, who also want to leave the club, are not expected to figure.
Millwall's Matthew Briggs misses out on a meeting with his former side. Full-back Briggs, who left Craven Cottage to join the Lions this summer, was sent off for two bookings - the first for taking his shirt off after scoring the winner - against Wycombe on Tuesday and serves a one-match ban. Forward Magaye Gueye is a doubt after suffering a rib injury on his debut in midweek while midfielder Nicky Bailey is still out with a calf problem. But Justin Hoyte, Ed Upson and Richard Chaplow are close to returning after hamstring injuries.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Top scorers (all competitions): Tim Hoogland (Fulham) 1; Mark Beevers, Shaun Williams & Matthew Briggs (Millwall) 1.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Our verdict: Fulham 1 Millwall 2
Leeds head coach David Hockaday hopes to add new signings Billy Sharp, Liam Cooper and Giuseppe Bellusci to his squad. Striker Sharp, plus central defenders Cooper and Bellusci arrived this week and could make their debuts in the Whites' first home game of the season, although the latter's appearance is subject to international clearance. Hockaday will be without summer signing Gaetano Berardi, who starts a three-game ban following his dismissal on his first appearance for the club in the midweek Capital One Cup win against Accrington. Defender Sam Byram, midfielder Rudy Austin and goalkeeper Marco Silvestri are all expected to return after missing Tuesday night's win, but Aidy White (ankle) and Lewis Walters (knee) are out.
New boy Adam Clayton could make his Middlesbrough debut after the midfielder joined from Huddersfield earlier this week. But the game is likely to come too soon for Spanish defender Damia Abella as he attempts to finalise a move to Teesside after being released by Osasuna. Long-term absentees Rhys Williams (Achilles) and Muzzy Carayol (cruciate ligament) remain on the recovery trail but are still some months away from returns.
Last season: Middlesbrough 0 Leeds 0 Leeds 2 Middlesbrough 1
Top scorers (all competitions): Souleymane Doukara (Leeds) 2; Kike (Middlesbrough) 2
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)
Our verdict: Leeds 1 Middlesbrough 2
Norwich will continue to be without midfielder Jonny Howson and striker Gary Hooper. Howson suffered medial knee ligament damage in pre-season while Hooper continues to recover from a calf injury. Defender Martin Olsson is banned following his dismissal in the 1-0 defeat at Wolves, with his absence possibly being extended after he was charged by the Football Association for improper conduct at Molineux. Kyle Lafferty could start up front after an impressive cameo role from the bench last Sunday and midfielder Gary O'Neil is available after suspension.
Watford defender Lloyd Doyley is a doubt after suffering a hamstring injury against Stevenage on Tuesday. Striker Mathias Ranegie missed the midweek Capital One Cup win with a groin problem but he was back in training on Wednesday and is in contention. Boss Beppe Sannino made nine changes against Boro so the likes of Heurelho Gomes, Lewis McGugan, Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra are expected to return to the starting line-up. But defender Craig Cathcart and winger Ikechi Anya will miss out again with knee injuries.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Top scorers: Troy Deeney, Lloyd Dyer, Fernando Forestieri & Matej Vydra (Watford) 1.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)
Our verdict: Norwich 1 Watford 1
Adam Federici is set to return in goal for Reading. Federici got the nod for the opening-day draw against Wigan but Alex McCarthy was given a run-out against Newport in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, one of just two changes made by boss Nigel Adkins. Hal Robson-Kanu, Danny Williams, Jem Karacan (all knee), Garath McCleary (back) and Danny Guthrie (calf) are all sidelined so once again Adkins will have to keep changes to a minimum. New signing Anton Ferdinand is unlikely to feature as the former West Ham and QPR defender is still building up his match fitness.
Ipswich are set to welcome back a whole host of players who missed Tuesday's Capital One Cup defeat at Crawley, with David McGoldrick, Tommy Smith and Daryl Murphy among those returning to full fitness. Cameron Stewart (jaw) and Stephen Hunt (calf) are still absent, while Cole Skuse (foot) is doubtful, but Paul Anderson and Jonathan Parr are on the mend and Mick McCarthy will be hoping to get back to the form which saw Town beat big-spending Fulham in their Championship opener.
Last season: Ipswich 2 Reading 0 Reading 2 Ipswich 1
Top scorers (all competitions): Nick Blackman, Craig Tanner, Shaun Cummings, Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) 1; David McGoldrick, Daryl Murphy (Ipswich) 1.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)
Our verdict: Reading 1 Ipswich 2
Rotherham are still without Frazer Richardson. The right-back has missed the opening two games of the season with a foot injury and will be absent for another week while Rob Milsom has suffered a knock and will not feature. Paul Taylor, signed on loan from Ipswich, is in contention for a debut but it remains to be seen whether Kieran Agard, who scored a hat-trick against Wolves in the thrilling 6-4 defeat at Molineux in April, will feature after being strongly linked with a move to Leeds.
Wolves boss Kenny Jackett is hoping to have defender Scott Golbourne back after he sat out Tuesday's surprise Capital One Cup loss to Northampton at Molineux with a minor knock. Summer signing Tommy Rowe has returned to full training following a hairline fracture to his fifth metatarsal in pre-season and will miss out. Striker Nouha Dicko returns to New York after a successful loan spell with the Millers last season where he scored six goals in five games.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Top scorers (all competitions): Matt Derbyshire (Rotherham) 1; Nouha Dicko, Sam Ricketts & Dave Edwards (Wolves) 1.
Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)
Our verdict: Rotherham 2 Wolves 2
Latest signing Stevie May is poised to make his Sheffield Wednesday debut. May, 21, signed from St Johnstone for £800,000 last weekend and missed the midweek Capital One Cup win against Notts County through suspension. Boss Stuart Gray must decide which of his strikers to leave out if he opts to start with May. Gary Madine and Atdhe Nuhiu were both on target on Tuesday night. Midfielder Jeremy Helan (groin/stomach) is back in contention and Kamil Zayatte (ankle) could make his first start in over nine months, but defender Lewis Buxton and striker Caolan Lavery (both knee) are still out.
Derby head coach Steve McClaren must choose between Jake Buxton and Zak Whitbread to partner captain Richard Keogh at the heart of the Rams' back line. Whitbread played the full 90 minutes alongside the Republic of Ireland international during Monday night's 2-0 Capital One Cup victory over Carlisle. Buxton, who started the opening game of the Championship campaign at home to Rotherham despite spending much of the build-up nursing a hip injury, was not risked at Brunton Park, having come through the full match against the Millers just 48 hours earlier. Leon Best and Omar Mascarell will be looking to earn their first starts following their recent arrivals from Blackburn and Real Madrid respectively.
Last season: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Derby 1 Derby 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Top scorers (all competitions): Gary Madine, Atdhe Nuhiu & Giles Coke (Sheffield Wednesday) 1; Jeff Hendrick (Derby) 2.
Referee: Scott Duncan (Tyne & Wear)
Our verdict: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Derby 1