Sky Bet Championship briefing

  • Last Updated: February 28 2014, 17:04 GMT

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

Lucas Neill: Could make Watford debut
Lucas Neill: Could make Watford debut

Saturday, March 1

QPR v Leeds

QPR midfielder Joey Barton will complete a two-match ban for picking up 10 yellow cards this season. Striker Andrew Johnson (ankle) is a doubt while Matty Phillips (ankle), Charlie Austin (shoulder), Alejandro Faurlin (cruciate) and Danny Simpson (back) remain sidelined, although the latter could be back in a couple of weeks. Ravel Morrison is in line to make his home debut following his recent loan switch from West Ham.

Leeds' new signing Connor Wickham is expected to make his debut after joining on loan from Sunderland until the end of the season on Wednesday. Goalkeeper Jack Butland, on loan from Stoke, is expected to resume in goal after making his first appearance in last week's goalless draw at Middlesbrough in place of the injured Paddy Kenny (ankle). Sam Byram returns to contention following a hamstring injury and Tom Lees is available again after missing out last week due to family reasons as Leeds bid for only their third league win in 12 matches.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Charlie Austin (QPR) 15; Ross McCormack (Leeds) 23

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

Our verdict: QPR 1 Leeds 1

Bolton v Blackburn

Full-back Alan Hutton could make his first domestic appearance of the season for Bolton. The Scotland international has not appeared in an English league game since a spell with Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day 2012, but Hutton agreed a one-month loan switch from Aston Villa to the Reebok Stadium on Friday afternoon and is considered match-fit. Striker Jermaine Beckford is expected to return to contention from a hamstring problem although central defender Matt Mills (knee) and midfielder Darren Pratley (shoulder) could both miss out.

Tom Cairney is struggling with an ankle injury suffered in Blackburn's win over Reading and although the problem is not considered serious, he faces a race against time to be fit. Josh King (hamstring) will return to full training at the start of next week ahead of the East Lancashire derby with Burnley next Sunday while midfielder Dickson Etuhu (ankle) is also nearing a comeback. Midfielder Corry Evans, an unused substitute at Reading, could appear for the first time since October following an ankle problem, but Ben Marshall (ankle) is out for the long term.

Last season: Bolton 1 Blackburn 0, Blackburn 1 Bolton 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jermaine Beckford (Bolton) 8; Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn) 16

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Bolton 2 Blackburn 2

Bournemouth v Doncaster

Bournemouth will wait on midfielder Eunan O'Kane, who missed the 1-0 loss to Derby last weekend. Andrew Surman is on standby to deputise once more. Left-back Charlie Daniels will miss out as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury while centre-back Elliott Ward remains sidelined with a knee injury. Former Charlton striker Yann Kermorgant and midfielder Ryan Fraser will both hope to be handed starts.

Gabriel Tamas (injury), Jordan Bowery and Chris Brown (both illness) return to the Doncaster squad. Theo Robinson was expected to make his return at Yeovil last weekend following knee surgery but like fellow strikers Bowery and Brown he was also struck down by a virus. A late decision will be made on whether Robinson travels to the south coast. Goalkeeper Ross Turnbull is nearing a return from the injury that has kept him out so far this month so a decision about whether to keep on-loan Manchester United man Sam Johnstone will be made in the next week to 10 days.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth) 13; Chris Brown (Doncaster) 6

Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey)

Our verdict: Bournemouth 2 Doncaster 1

Burnley v Derby

Burnley could name the same XI for the sixth straight game. Midfielder Brian Stock has been held back with a back problem recently but the form of those ahead of him would probably have left him on the sidelines anyway.

Midfielder Craig Bryson and forward Jamie Ward are expected to return to the Derby squad after both missed the home win over Bournemouth last weekend, Bryson with a knock and Ward due to a hamstring problem. Jeff Hendrick and Johnny Russell deputised against the Cherries. Attacking midfielder Simon Dawkins and striker Conor Sammon also come into contention for starting roles after making key contributions from the bench against Bournemouth.

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

Last five league matches: Burnley D W W D W; Derby W D W W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Danny Ings (Burnley) 24; Chris Martin (Derby) 18

Referee: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire)

Our verdict: Burnley 3 Derby 2

Huddersfield v Barnsley

Huddersfield striker Joe Lolley is hoping to make his first start for the club. Lolley has made just two substitute appearances since arriving from Kidderminster in January, but was a half-time substitute in last week's home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday and is pushing for his full debut. Leading goalscorer James Vaughan remains a fortnight away from a return after missing the last two games due to a calf strain and defender Joel Lynch is expected to be out for another month following surgery to resolve a groin problem.

Barnsley manager Danny Wilson has no new injury or suspension worries following last week's home win against relegation rivals Millwall, with only Bobby Hassell ruled out due to a long-term calf injury. Winger Brek Shea, on loan from Stoke, plus midfielders Stephen Dawson, Martin Woods and Liam Lawrence are all pushing for recalls.

Last season: Huddersfield 2 Barnsley 2, Barnsley 0 Huddersfield 1

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

Top scorers: James Vaughan (Huddersfield) 12; Chris O'Grady (Barnsley) 11

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)

Our verdict: Huddersfield 2 Barnsley 1

Ipswich v Birmingham

Jonny Williams comes into contention for his Ipswich debut after the midfielder joined on a month's loan from Crystal Palace. Leading goalscorer David McGoldrick faces a battle to play again this season having sustained knee ligament damage earlier this month. Midfielder Luke Hyam will be monitored as he looks to overcome a hamstring injury.

Chris Burke has been passed fit for Birmingham after suffering a head injury in last weekend's win at Blackpool, while fellow winger Jordon Ibe is pushing for a starting berth having impressed when replacing Burke at Bloomfield Road. Brian Howard (fractured toe) is expected to be fit but fellow midfielder Callum Reilly (knee) misses out.

Last season: Ipswich 3 Birmingham 1, Birmingham 0 Ipswich 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): David McGoldrick (Ipswich) 16; Lee Novak (Birmingham) 9

Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

Our verdict: Ipswich 1 Birmingham 1

Leicester v Charlton

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson will have an unchanged squad to select from. Left-back Paul Konchesky will serve the second game of a three-match suspension for his red card against Nottingham Forest, while the only other absentees are the injured Sean St Ledger (groin) and Tom Hopper (shin).

Charlton boss Chris Powell could recall Rhoys Wiggins. The left-back was rested for Monday night's FA Cup win at Sheffield Wednesday having only recently returned from a hamstring injury. Powell also has a decision to make in goal after regular number one Ben Hamer returned from an ankle injury at Hillsborough to take over from January signing Yohann Thuram-Ulien. Knee injury victims Chris Solly and Leon Cort remain on the sidelines although the latter could be back in training next week.

Last season: Leicester 1 Charlton 2, Charlton 2 Leicester 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): David Nugent (Leicester) 18; Simon Church (Charlton) 7

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Leicester 3 Charlton 0

Millwall v Brighton

Millwall are hopeful goalkeeper David Forde will be fit after the Republic of Ireland international dislocated a finger during last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Barnsley but managed to complete the match. Defender Mark Beevers could return after missing the last four matches with a calf injury, but midfielder Nicky Bailey has a back problem which is likely to sideline him for another month.

Jesse Lingard will be added to the Brighton squad after joining on loan from Manchester United until the end of the season. Leonardo Ulloa, who has scored in each of the last five matches, is set to start in attack again despite carrying an ankle problem recently. Andrea Orlandi (ankle) and Will Buckley (hamstring) will be assessed while goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, skipper Gordon Greer and fellow defender Bruno, who were rested for Monday night's FA Cup exit at Hull, will return along with midfielder Dale Stephens, who was cup-tied.

Last season: Brighton 2 Millwall 2, Millwall 1 Brighton 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Martyn Woolford (Millwall) 7; Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton) 11

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Millwall 1 Brighton 2

Nottingham Forest v Wigan

Influential Nottingham Forest midfielder Andy Reid could be out for around six weeks as he requires a hernia operation. He joins fellow key midfielders Henri Lansbury (back) and David Vaughan (knee) on the sidelines. Eric Lichaj (hernia) and Kevin Gomis are close to full fitness while fellow defender Jack Hobbs, a transfer target for Wigan in January, is still not ready to make his comeback from a ankle injury.

Midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe could come into Wigan's squad after joining on loan this week from Fulham and will provide another midfield option following the news that Ben Watson had suffered a double leg break. Winger Callum McManaman (ankle) and forward Nick Powell (hamstring) - a former Manchester United team-mate of Tunnicliffe's - are both set to miss out again along with Scotland international Shaun Maloney (hip).

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Andy Reid (Nottm Forest) 10; Nick Powell (Wigan) 10

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Our verdict: Nottingham Forest 1 Wigan 2

Reading v Yeovil

Left-back Wayne Bridge (knee) is the closest of Reading's injured players to making a comeback but he will not be involved against the Glovers. Fellow defender Sean Morrison (knee) has also returned to the training ground while midfielder Mikele Leigertwood (ankle) has started jogging, but striker Jason Roberts (hip) and winger Jem Karacan (cruciate) remain long-term absentees. Danny Guthrie is pushing for a return in midfield if Royals boss Nigel Adkins opts to make a change following last weekend's defeat by Blackburn.

Yeovil striker Ishmael Miller limped off just 10 minutes into their vital 1-0 win over Doncaster last weekend and he has been undergoing intensive treatment on his hamstring injury. Kieffer Moore could step in if the Nottingham Forest loanee does not make it, while Duane Holmes will hope to keep his place after a lively debut having joined on loan from Huddersfield.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 13; James Hayter (Yeovil) 6

Referee: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire)

Our verdict: Reading 2 Yeovil 2

Sheffield Wednesday v Middlesbrough

Sheffield Wednesday winger Michail Antonio will be sidelined for several weeks. Antonio, who had only recently returned from a knee injury, damaged ankle ligaments in last week's win at Huddersfield and was replaced at half-time by Jeremy Helan. Winger Jermaine Johnson is available again following his four-game ban. Goalkeeper Chris Kirkland is expected to return in place of Damian Martinez, but midfielder Kieran Lee (hamstring), Jose Semedo (fractured fibula), Reda Johnson (hip), Lewis Buxton (groin), Martin Taylor (knee) and Kamil Zayatte (ankle) are all still out.

Middlesbrough must choose a replacement in goal for Shay Given, who has returned to parent club Aston Villa after a hugely successful loan spell on Teesside. Jason Steele, who had established himself as number one at the start of the season, is back after three months on the sidelines following ankle surgery but faces competition from new signing Tomas Mejias Osorio, Dimi Konstantopoulos and Jayson Leutwiler. Central defender Ben Gibson is available again after suspension, while fellow frontman Luke Williams will hope to be included after returning from a month on loan at League 2 Hartlepool. Defenders Daniel Ayala (ankle) and Rhys Williams (Achilles) remain on the long-term casualty list.

Last season: Sheff Wed 2 Middlesbrough 0, Middlesbrough 3 Sheff Wed 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris Maguire (Sheff Wed) 6; Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) 9

Referee: Andy D'Urso (Essex)

Our verdict: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Middlesbrough 1

Watford v Blackpool

Australian defender Lucas Neill is in line to make his Watford bow having joined the Hornets on a short-term deal until the end of the season this week. Striker Fernando Forestieri remains a doubt due to his hamstring injury while Fitz Hall (Achilles), Almen Abdi (foot) and Lewis McGugan (thigh) continue to miss out. Defender Joel Ekstrand starts a two-match suspension having picked up his 10th booking of the season in last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Bolton, while midfielder Samba Diakite completes his three-game ban.

Jack Robinson and Tony McMahon are both suspended for Blackpool. Caretaker boss Barry Ferguson brought in Kevin Foley on Thursday to compensate for the loss of his two defenders and he could slot straight in.

Last season: Watford 1 Blackpool 2, Blackpool 2 Watford 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Troy Deeney (Watford) 14; Ricardo Fuller (Blackpool) 4

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

Our verdict: Watford 1 Blackpool 0


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