npower Championship briefing

  • Last Updated: December 21 2012, 17:14 GMT

Team news and statistics for the weekend's action in the npower Championship. League positions in brackets.

Mile Jedinak: Returns from suspension for Palace
Mile Jedinak: Returns from suspension for Palace

Saturday, December 22

Birmingham (19) v Burnley (16)

Birmingham are without Paul Caddis after the defender tore his hamstring during last week's draw with Crystal Palace. Fellow defender Jonathan Spector is also likely to miss out as he struggles with an ankle injury. Midfielder Darren Ambrose, full-backs David Murphy and Stephen Carr (all knee) and striker Akwasi Asante (hamstring) remain sidelined. Hayden Mullins returns from his one-match ban, while fellow midfielder Morgaro Gomis is in contention after a thigh injury.

Burnley welcome back Michael Duff and Chris McCann after the pair served one-match bans ruling them out of last weekend's Watford clash. In their absence, Kevin Long made his first Burnley start at the heart of the defence and the 22-year-old may now revert to the bench. Fellow defender Ben Mee is sidelined as he continues his rehabilitation from medial knee ligament damage.

Last season: Burnley 1 Birmingham 3, Birmingham 2 Burnley 1

Last five league matches: Birmingham L D W L D; Burnley W D D L D

Top scorers (all competitions): Marlon King (Birmingham) 13; Charlie Austin (Burnley) 22

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)

Blackburn (15) v Brighton (8)

Blackburn captain Danny Murphy could be ready to return for the first time since suffering a hamstring strain in the draw with Burnley at the start of this month. Fellow midfield veteran David Dunn is also pushing for greater involvement having been restricted in recent weeks with a calf problem. Markus Olsson is available once more after being struck down by illness ahead of last weekend's defeat to Blackpool.

Brighton have problems in defence. Full-backs Bruno (Achilles), Inigo Calderon (knee) and Marcos Painter (calf) are all expected to miss out at Ewood Park, so centre-half Adam El-Abd looks set to deputise at right-back. Gary Dicker (knee) and Andrea Orlandi (rib) are also likely to sit out again. Fellow midfielder Liam Bridcutt was withdrawn during the second half against Millwall on Tuesday night but manager Gus Poyet confirmed that was as a precaution.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Blackburn L L D L L; Brighton W L D D D

Top scorers (all competitions): Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn) 13; Craig Mackail-Smith (Brighton) 10

Referee: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire)

Crystal Palace (2) v Huddersfield (17)

Crystal Palace welcome back stand-in skipper Mile Jedinak after he served a one-match ban for collecting five yellow cards. Fellow midfielder Jonny Williams is back in full training after a groin problem, although Palace are keen not to rush him back. Captain Paddy McCarthy remains a long-term absentee with the groin injury which has kept him out all season.

Huddersfield will be without the suspended Alan Lee, but fellow striker Jermaine Beckford could return to the starting line-up. Lee serves the first of a three-game ban for violent conduct following his altercation with Hull defender Alex Bruce last week, while Beckford appeared as a second-half substitute after a five-game lay-off due to a hamstring injury. Defender Paul Dixon is back in contention after sitting out a one-game ban.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Crystal Palace L D W D D; Huddersfield D L L D L

Top scorers (all competitions): Glenn Murray (Crystal Palace) 20; Chris Atkinson (Huddersfield) 6

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)

Ipswich (20) v Bristol City (21)

Ipswich are boosted by the return of Luke Hyam. The midfielder missed two matches with a hamstring injury at the start of the month and, after returning to training before last weekend's trip to Leeds, fell ill and was unable to travel. Nigel Reo-Coker returned to the bench after recovering from a hamstring injury and is pushing for a first start since November.

Bristol City striker Jon Stead is set to make his first start for over a month. The 29-year-old came on as a substitute against Derby last weekend following a thigh injury and he is now set to replace Ryan Taylor in the starting line-up. The former Rotherham forward has a thigh injury while Liverpool loanee Danny Wilson tweaked a hamstring in training.

Last season: Ipswich 3 Bristol City 0, Bristol City 0 Ipswich 3

Last five league matches: Ipswich D W W W L; Bristol City W L L W L

Top scorers (all competitions): DJ Campbell (Ipswich) 8; Steven Davies (Bristol City) 8

Referee: Mark Haywood

Leeds (12) v Middlesbrough (3)

Leeds on-loan defender Alan Tate is expected to return to the starting line-up after being unavailable for the Capital One Cup clash with Chelsea. He is likely to step back in alongside Tom Lees in central defence, with Jason Pearce making way. Striker Davide Somma could make his first appearance since May 2011 following a long-term knee injury. Goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was rested in midweek and is another player likely to return, in place of Jamie Ashdown. Michael Tonge has gone back to Stoke.

Rhys Williams could return to the Middlesbrough squad for the first time since August. He damaged ankle ligaments in August, but has returned to light training and may be available. Boss Tony Mowbray has a series of injury doubts with full-back George Friend, who suffered a hamstring strain in the victory over Wolves last weekend, being assessed ahead of kick-off. Central defender Andre Bikey and midfielder Faris Haroun (both hamstring), as well as utility man Andy Halliday (groin), all missed the clash with the Black Country club, and their respective conditions will be assessed.

Last season: Middlesbrough 0 Leeds 2, Leeds 0 Middlesbrough 1

Last five league matches: Leeds W W W L W; Middlesbrough L W L W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Luciano Becchio (Leeds) 14; Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough) 9

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

Leicester (5) v Cardiff (1)

Martyn Waghorn is expected to return to the Leicester squad just 10 days after an operation to remove his appendix. Defenders Sean St Ledger and Michael Keane remain out with hamstring injuries, with St Ledger currently in Germany seeing a specialist about the problem that has kept him out for two-and-a-half months.

Cardiff captain Mark Hudson is set to return to the starting line-up at Leicester after missing the shock defeat to Peterborough. The 30-year-old centre-back has served his one-match ban for his fifth yellow card of the season and looks likely to partner Ben Turner. Malky Mackay also has midfielders Jordon Mutch and Aron Gunnarsson pushing for recalls for the leaders.

Last season: Leicester 2 Cardiff 1, Cardiff 0 Leicester 0

Last five league matches: Leicester W L W D L; Cardiff W D W W L

Top scorers (all competitions): David Nugent (Leicester) 11; Heidar Helguson (Cardiff) 8

Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)

Millwall (6) v Barnsley (22)

Millwall will check on Andy Keogh and Chris Taylor. Striker Keogh has been playing despite a broken toe but was forced to withdraw from the warm-up at Brighton on Tuesday night. Winger Taylor came off with a knee knock early in the second half of the draw on the south coast and he will be assessed. Forward Darius Henderson was on the bench at Brighton after a hamstring injury and should be involved again. Skipper Paul Robinson is the only definite absentee.

Barnsley's on-loan midfielder Akos Buzsaky has been added to the injured list after he sustained a hamstring injury during last week's home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday and could be replaced in the starting line-up by Jim O'Brien. Teenager Reuben Noble-Lazarus and fellow striker Emile Sinclair, on loan from Peterborough, both missed the game due to an ankle injury and a dead-leg respectively and are not expected to be in manager Keith Hill's squad.

Last season: Barnsley 1 Millwall 3, Millwall 0 Barnsley 0

Last five league matches: Millwall W D L W D; Barnsley L D L D L

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris Wood (Millwall) 11; Craig Davies (Barnsley) 9

Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland)

Peterborough (24) v Bolton (13)

Nathaniel Knight-Percival has recovered from an ankle injury to enable Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson to name an unchanged side. Centre-half Knight-Percival hobbled off midway through the second half of last Saturday's surprise 2-1 win at npower Championship leaders Cardiff.

David Ngog is pushing for a start for Bolton after scoring twice against Charlton last week. On-loan Aston Villa full-back Stephen Warnock completes his spell this weekend, although Wanderers are keen on seeking an extension. Midfielder Mark Davies is sidelined for around three months after undergoing shoulder surgery, defender Matt Mills will not feature again until the new year.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Peterborough D L L L W; Bolton D W L D W

Top scorers (all competitions): Dwight Gayle (Peterborough) 11; Chris Eagles (Bolton) 7

Referee: Nigel Miller (Durham)

Sheff Wed (23) v Charlton (14)

Reda Johnson could return to the Sheffield Wednesday fold. The defender has been absent since mid-September with a long-term foot injury but played for over an hour in the development squad's clash with Derby on Tuesday. Wednesday will be without striker Jay Bothroyd, who is troubled by an ankle problem although boss Dave Jones expects him to return to training on Sunday in time for the Boxing Day clash with Bolton.

Midfielder Dale Stephens will be missing for Charlton as he serves a one-match ban for collecting his fifth yellow card of the season at Bolton last weekend, so Bradley Pritchard is likely to be recalled. Striker Ricardo Fuller is hoping to return over Christmas after a hamstring injury but the trip to Hillsborough may be too soon.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Sheff Wed L L L L W; Charlton D W D D L

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris O'Grady (Sheff Wed) 6; Johnnie Jackson (Charlton) 4

Referee: Gary Sutton (Lincolnshire)

Watford (7) v Nottm Forest (9)

Watford are without Fernando Forestieri for the third consecutive game after the Italian striker suffered a hamstring problem. Midfielder John Eustace and defender Nyron Nosworthy both returned to training this week after injury but they are some way short of match fitness and will not be involved. Defender Lloyd Doyley remains sidelined with a calf injury.

Simon Cox could return to the Forest squad following almost a month out with a foot injury. On-loan Chelsea defender Sam Hutchinson and borrowed Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas are back in training after respective knee and calf injuries but neither player is likely to be risked at Vicarage Road. O'Driscoll has the likes of defenders Elliott Ward and Greg Halford and midfielders Simon Gillett, Lewis McGugan, Henri Lansbury and Radoslaw Majewski available.

Last season: Nottm Forest 1 Watford 1, Watford 0 Nottm Forest 1

Last five league matches: Watford D W W L D; Nottm Forest W L L W D

Top scorers (all competitions): Troy Deeney (Watford) 9; Billy Sharp (Nottm Forest) 7

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)

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