Sky Bet Championship briefing

  • Last Updated: January 17 2014, 12:45 GMT

Team news, statistics and our verdict for the weekend's action in the Sky Bet Championship.

Joey Barton: Misses out for QPR
Joey Barton: Misses out for QPR

(Current league positions in brackets)

Saturday, January 18

Leeds v Leicester

Leeds will be without suspended striker Matt Smith after he was sent off in last week's thrashing at Sheffield Wednesday. Recent signings Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart are hoping to make their home debuts on their respective wings, while manager Brian McDermott may make one or two other tactical changes. Leading goalscorer Ross McCormack will skipper the side for the first time after taking over the captain's armband this week from midfielder Rudy Austin.

Kevin Phillips is expected to be included in the Leicester squad against Leeds after joining the Championship leaders on Wednesday. Winger Riyad Mahrez is also available for selection after signing from French club Le Havre since the Foxes 4-1 home win over Derby. Striker Chris Wood made his return from a hamstring injury as a substitute against the Rams last Friday and has suffered no reaction, but Paul Konchesky is nursing a knock sustained in that game and the left-back will be assessed.

Last season: Leicester 1 Leeds 1, Leeds 1 Leicester 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Ross McCormack (Leeds) 18; David Nugent (Leicester) 16

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Our verdict: Leeds 2 Leicester 2

Barnsley v Blackpool

Barnsley's new signings Liam Lawrence and Ryan McLaughlin could make their first appearances for the club while Brek Shea is poised for his home debut. Boss Danny Wilson will be without defender Bobby Hassell (calf), midfielder Kelvin Etuhu (hamstring) and striker Marcus Pedersen (thigh). Winger Jim O'Brien has a groin problem, but is expecting to be included in the squad. Wilson is still chasing his first win since returning to the club last month, with the Tykes without a win in their last six league games.

Blackpool will be boosted by the return of Kirk Broadfoot from a four-game ban and Isaiah Osbourne from a foot injury. Central defender Gary MacKenzie is a major doubt with an ankle injury and will have a late fitness test while young forward Tom Barkhuizen is out for six months after fracturing his collarbone in the loss to Middlesbrough. Striker Bobby Grant (knee) misses out again.

Last season: Blackpool 1 Barnsley 2, Barnsley 1 Blackpool 1

Last five league matches: Barnsley D D L L D; Blackpool L D L L L

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris O'Grady (Barnsley) 7; Tom Ince (Blackpool) 7

Referee: Rob Lewis (Shropshire)

Our verdict: Barnsley 1 Blackpool 1

Birmingham v Yeovil

Mitch Hancox and Lee Novak are expected to overcome respective ankle and hip knocks in time to face the Glovers, having suffered the injuries in the FA Cup win over Bristol Rovers on Tuesday. New signing Brian Howard comes into contention for his Blues debut but defender Kyle Bartley (hamstring), midfielder Tom Adeyemi (back) and striker Peter Lovenkrands (groin) remain sidelined. Long-term absentees David Murphy, Matt Green, Neal Eardley (all knee), Jonathan Spector (thigh) and Akwasi Asante (hamstring) also continue to be unavailable.

Yeovil boss Gary Johnson introduced Kieffer Moore, Ed Upson and Adam Morgan as substitutes in their 2-1 loss against Burnley and the trio will all hope to get the nod to face Blues. Other options include squad regulars Jamie McAllister and Sam Foley. Defender Byron Webster came through the Clarets defeat unscathed despite suffering with a hamstring injury in the pre-match warm-up and he looks set to partner Shane Duffy once more.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris Burke, Kyle Bartley, Nikola Zigic & Lee Novak (Birmingham) 5; Ed Upson (Yeovil) 5

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)

Our verdict: Birmingham 2 Yeovil 0

Bournemouth v Watford

Bournemouth look set to be without striker Lewis Grabban, with the former Rotherham forward in talks with Brighton over a potential move to the Amex Stadium. Lee Camp looks set to regain his place in goal after he was cup-tied for the 4-1 win over Burton on Tuesday night, while defender Steve Cook came through his return from a hamstring injury unscathed in that cup tie and will hope to keep his place against the Hornets.

Brighton's Almen Abdi will continue to look for more minutes under his belt after the influential midfielder came off the bench for the final 15 minutes of Tuesday's 2-0 FA Cup win over Bristol City, his first appearance since August having overcome a long-term foot injury. Loanee Hector Bellerin returns to contention having been denied permission to feature in midweek by parent club Arsenal. However, Alexander Merkel serves the second game of his three-match suspension while Marco Cassetti (knee), Essaid Belkalem and Tommie Hoban (both ankle) remain sidelined.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Bournemouth W W D D L; Watford L D W D L

Top scorers (all competitions): Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth) 10; Troy Deeney (Watford) 11

Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)

Our verdict: Bournemouth 2 Watford 1

Burnley v Sheffield Wednesday

Position Player Score
1 Leicester 54
2 Burnley 50
3 QPR 49
4 Derby 44
5 N Forest 41
6 Brighton 39
7 Reading 38
8 Blackburn 37
9 Ipswich 36
10 Wigan 36
11 Leeds 35
12 Huddersfld 34
13 Middlesbro' 33
14 Blackpool 32
15 Watford 30
16 Bournemth 30
17 Birmingham 29
18 Bolton 28
19 Sheff Wed 25
20 Charlton 24
21 Millwall 22
22 Doncaster 21
23 Yeovil 17
24 Barnsley 17

Burnley boss Sean Dyche could have the luxury of a fully-fit squad and the only real concern for the Clarets boss is full-back Ben Mee, who has been troubled by a thigh problem. There may also be a long-awaited return for winger Ross Wallace, who has been missing since mid-August because of a knee injury, while another wide man, loanee Michael Kightly, has shrugged off a knee issue of his own. Recent signing Ashley Barnes came off the bench with two minutes to go against Yeovil last time out but may have to wait for a full debut with top scorer Danny Ings and strike partner Sam Vokes on great form, having scored 33 times between them.

Sheffield Wednesday's latest signing Oguchi Onyewu is hoping to make his debut. The United States defender joined the Owls last week but was ineligible for the midweek FA Cup replay win against Macclesfield. Connor Wickham is expected to return to the starting line-up - he does not have permission from parent club Sunderland to play in the FA Cup - and fellow striker Caolan Lavery will also return to the squad as he too was ineligible. Chris Kirkland will be back in goal in place of on-loan Damian Martinez, while Michail Antonio, Giles Coke (both hamstring), Lewis Buxton (groin), Kamil Zayatte, Martin Taylor (both ankle) and Anthony Gardner (Achilles) are still out.

Last season: Sheff Wed 0 Burnley 2, Burnley 3 Sheff Wed 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Danny Ings (Burnley) 21; Connor Wickham (Sheff Wed) 10

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Our verdict: Burnley 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2

Derby v Brighton

Richard Keogh could come back into the reckoning for Derby. He resumed full training this week following the medial knee ligament injury he suffered against Doncaster last month. Michael Keane has deputised in his absence and Rams head coach Steve McClaren must decide whether to stick with the on-loan Manchester United defender or recall the skipper at centre-back. Teenage striker Mason Bennett is pushing for a start after impressing from the bench against Wigan, Chelsea and Leicester, while Patrick Bamford will be hoping for his full debut after coming on as a substitute during last week's defeat to the Foxes.

Brighton will be without Andrew Crofts for the rest of the season after he suffered a cruciate injury during last weekend's 1-0 win over Birmingham. Liam Bridcutt could replace the Welshman if he can overcome the groin problem which sidelined him against the Blues. The Seagulls are in talks to sign striker Lewis Grabban from Bournemouth to replace Ashley Barnes after he left to join Burnley. Winger Will Buckley (hamstring) is out, along with long-term absentees Will Hoskins (knee) and Craig Mackail-Smith (Achilles).

Last season: Brighton 2 Derby 1, Derby 0 Brighton 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris Martin (Derby) 15; Andrew Crofts & Jose Ulloa (Brighton) 6

Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Derby 2 Brighton 0

Doncaster v Wigan

Paul Keegan could be back in the reckoning for Doncaster having been out with a hamstring injury since the start of November. He has been given a 50-50 chance of being involved by manager Paul Dickov. Paul Quinn is still struggling with the knee injury that ruled him out at Blackburn but fellow defenders Jamie McCombe (back) and Rob Jones (neck) are making progress in their recoveries. New signing Gabriel Tamas is available should his international clearance come through.

New loan signing Nicky Maynard is expected to go straight into the Wigan squad after joining on loan from Cardiff. Nick Powell came off the bench to fire Wigan past MK Dons in an FA Cup replay and the Manchester United loanee will be expected to go straight back into the team. Defenders Tyias Browning, waiting for his full debut, and Rob Kiernan were ineligible in midweek but are available again for a squad which is still missing the likes of goalkeeper Scott Carson (thigh), defender Gary Caldwell (hip) and Scotland winger Shaun Maloney (shoulder).

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Doncaster L L D L L; Wigan W D D W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Theo Robinson (Doncaster) 5; Nick Powell (Wigan) 10

Referee: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire)

Our verdict: Doncaster 1 Wigan 1

Middlesbrough v Charlton

Striker Kei Kamara is pushing for a return to the Middlesbrough squad having scored twice for the under-21s in midweek on his comeback from a medial ligament injury. Defender Adam Reach featured in the same match following his return from a loan spell at League One Shrewsbury, and he too will hope to be involved. Goalkeeper Jason Steele remains on the sidelines following knee surgery, meaning Dimi Konstantopoulos will continue to provide the back-up to loan signing Shay Given after signing a contract extension until the end of the season. New signing Nathaniel Chalobah could play a part.

Charlton could add Astrit Ajdarevic, Yohann Thuram-Ulien and Michael Smith to their squad. Midfielder Ajdarevic and goalkeeper Thuram-Ulien recently joined the Addicks on loan from Standard Liege but were not signed in time to play in the FA Cup draw against Oxford on Tuesday night, while striker Smith was cup-tied in midweek. Right-back Chris Solly could return after he was rested, midfielder Dale Stephens (illness) will be checked over while defender Leon Cort (knee) and striker Marvin Sordell (hamstring) are out.

Last season: Middlesbrough 2 Charlton 2, Charlton 1 Middlesbrough 4

Last five league matches: Middlesbrough W W W D W; Charlton L D W D D

Top scorers (all competitions): Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) 9; Yann Kermorgant (Charlton) 6

Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

Our verdict: Middlesbrough 2 Charlton 1

Millwall v Ipswich

Liam Trotter could return to Millwall's starting line-up after missing three games with a knee injury sustained over Christmas. However, he returned as a late substitute in the last-gasp 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield last weekend. Skipper Paul Robinson is close to returning from a thigh problem but fellow defender Scott Malone (ribs) and winger Liam Feeney (hamstring) are out while striker Jermaine Easter is still suspended.

Defenders Luke Chambers (hamstring), Aaron Cresswell (knee), midfielder Cole Skuse (dead leg) and striker Daryl Murphy (thigh) have all been passed fit for Ipswich after all missed Tuesday's FA Cup defeat at Preston. Carlos Edwards and Tyrone Mings picked up respective knee and foot knocks against North End but both are expected to be okay. Midfielder Anthony Wordsworth is back in training after a bout of tonsillitis but needs to increase his fitness levels before being considered for selection, while striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (hamstring) remains sidelined.

Last season: Millwall 0 Ipswich 0, Ipswich 3 Millwall 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Martyn Woolford (Millwall) 5; David McGoldrick (Ipswich) 13

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Millwall 1 Ipswich 3

Nottingham Forest v Blackburn

Nottingham Forest will be without centre-back Jack Hobbs (hamstring) after he was forced off during the second half of the 1-1 draw at Bolton last weekend. Danny Collins made his return from a three-month absence with an ankle injury as Hobbs' replacement and the Welshman may start on Saturday. Full-back Eric Lichaj and midfielder David Vaughan, on loan from Sunderland, will be checked on by boss Billy Davies. Lichaj missed out at Bolton with a knock and Vaughan has been hampered by a thigh problem in recent weeks.

Blackburn's top scorer Jordan Rhodes and their captain Scott Dann are both expected to return after missing the FA Cup thrashing at Manchester City with foot and groin injuries respectively. Goalkeeper Paul Robinson lasted just 45 minutes at the Etihad Stadium before coming off with a slight hamstring strain so he will be assessed, with back-up Simon Eastwood ready to fill the void. Midfielder Corry Evans (ankle) could return to the squad following an ankle problem while David Dunn, recently suffering from a hamstring injury, is another who may come in along with the likes of striker Rudy Gestede. Midfielder Dickson Etuhu (ankle) remains absent.

Last season: Blackburn 3 Nottm Forest 0, Nottm Forest 0 Blackburn 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Andy Reid (Nottm Forest) 8; Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn) 16

Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)

Our verdict: Nottingham Forest 1 Blackburn 1

QPR v Huddersfield

Joey Barton (thigh) is ruled out and Junior Hoilett (hamstring) is an injury doubt for QPR. Striker Bobby Zamora (knee) could return to the squad after scoring for the reserves in a midweek friendly while full-back Luke Young (hip) also got a run-out. Argentinian midfielder Alejandro Faurlin remains a long-term absentee as he recovers from a cruciate injury.

Huddersfield's leading goalscorer James Vaughan hopes to return from injury and latest signing Nahki Wells could make his full debut. Vaughan has been sidelined since December 21 due to an ankle injury, while Wells stepped off the bench to score the Terriers' last-minute winner last week following his £1.3million switch from Bradford. Boss Mark Robins is still without defender Joel Lynch (hip) and skipper Peter Clarke remains sidelined following knee surgery as Town chase their first league win on the road in four matches.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: QPR L L D W W; Huddersfield D D W L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Charlie Austin (QPR) 12; James Vaughan (Huddersfield) 12

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)

Our verdict: QPR 4 Huddersfield 2

Reading v Bolton

Reading will check on Danny Guthrie after the midfielder missed last weekend's 1-0 win at Watford with a calf injury. Royals manager Nigel Adkins is still without Wayne Bridge, Sean Morrison (both knee), Chris Baird (ankle), Hal Robson-Kanu (calf), Mikele Leigertwood (ankle), Jason Roberts (hip) and Jem Karacan (cruciate). Striker Nick Blackman took a hefty blow at Vicarage Road but should be fit along with winger Jordan Obita, who came off with cramp.

Top scorer Jermaine Beckford will be absent for Bolton with a hamstring injury and will miss the next three weeks. Craig Davies, who is considered fully fit following several minor niggles but has not featured since November, may return to the fold. Trotters boss Dougie Freedman has told Andy Lonergan will keep his place in goal despite Adam Bogdan's return from a knee injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 7; Jermaine Beckford (Bolton) 8

Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire)

Our verdict: Reading 1 Bolton 2

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