Sky Bet Championship briefing
Team news, statistics and our verdict for the weekend's action in the Sky Bet Championship.
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Saturday, March 22
Charlie Austin could start for QPR. Rangers' 15-goal top scorer has made two substitute appearances since recovering from the shoulder injury which kept him out for three months and manager Harry Redknapp may unleash him from the start following back-to-back defeats. Skipper Clint Hill (ankle), midfielder Joey Barton (thigh) and winger Armand Traore (leg) are sidelined along with long-termers Matty Phillips, Andrew Johnson (both ankle) and Alejandro Faurlin (knee). But Nedum Onuoha (calf), Niko Kranjcar, Aaron Hughes and Jermaine Jenas (all hamstring) could return to the squad.
David Vaughan looks set to return to the Nottingham Forest squad having been out of action since February with a dislocated kneecap. Danny Collins is suspended following his red card in Tuesday's 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, while Radoslaw Majewski is not expected to overcome illness. Andy Reid is very close to returning following hamstring trouble along with Eric Lichaj, who is battling a hernia.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Last five league matches: QPR W W D L L; Nottm Forest L L D L D
Top scorers (all competitions): Charlie Austin (QPR) 15; Jamie Paterson (Nottm Forest) 12
Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)
Joe Mason is set to play the final game of his Bolton loan spell. The Cardiff forward will be back in south Wales after two spells with Wanderers this season, the most recent of which has seen him score five times in eight games. Bolton manager Dougie Freedman, who has presided over just one defeat in the previous 11 contests, must decide whether midfielder Mark Davies deserves a recall now that he is fully fit following a groin strain. The injured quartet of Marc Tierney (broken leg), Joe Riley (knee), Darren Pratley (shoulder) and Stuart Holden (knee) are still sidelined.
Barnsley will be hoping to call on midfielder Liam Lawrence, who missed Tuesday's home defeat to Burnley with a slight calf strain but has returned to training. Martin Cranie (hamstring) is rated as "touch and go" but striker Marcus Pedersen will miss out with a similar injury. The Reds, who welcome Kelvin Etuhu back from suspension, are five points from safety going into the final five games of the season.
Last season: Barnsley 2 Bolton 3, Bolton 1 Barnsley 1
Last five league matches: Bolton D W D W W; Barnsley L W W D L
Top scorers (all competitions): Jermaine Beckford (Bolton) 8; Chris O'Grady (Barnsley) 13
Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire)
Right-back Bruno returns for Brighton following a two-match suspension, while left-back Stephen Ward will be assessed after playing the entire second half of Tuesday night's 4-1 win at Leicester with a swollen ankle. Midfielder Rohan Ince has overcome a dead leg but wingers Will Buckley (hamstring) and Andrea Orlandi (thigh) are set to miss out again for the Seagulls, who are one place and two points outside the play-off places.
Charlton defender Lawrie Wilson could face Brighton wearing a protective mask. The right-back missed Tuesday night's 3-2 win over relegation rivals Yeovil after suffering a fractured eye socket but he is in line to return against the Seagulls. Centre-half Leon Cort made a welcome comeback as a late substitute in midweek having been out all season with a knee injury. Full-back Chris Solly is still out with his knee problem, although boss Jose Riga hopes the club's reigning player of the year will be back before the end of the campaign.
Last season: Brighton 0 Charlton 0, Charlton 2 Brighton 2
Last five league matches: Brighton L L D D W; Charlton W L W L W
Top scorers: Jose Ulloa (Brighton) 14; Piotr Parzyszek (Charlton) 15
Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)
Burnley will have virtually a fully-fit squad as they seek the win which could send them into the Barclays Premier League. If the Clarets secure three points and nearest challengers Derby fail to beat Huddersfield, Sean Dyche's men would return to the top flight after a four-year absence. Top scorer Danny Ings (ankle) returned in the midweek win over Barnsley, as did midfielder Dean Marney following his suspension while full-back Kieran Trippier (hamstring) was an unused substitute. Midfielder Junior Stanislas (hamstring) is nearing a return while Wales international Sam Vokes, out for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, underwent a successful operation this week.
Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka will be without three members of the back line which started the 3-1 Sky Bet Championship victory over Birmingham in midweek with Kenneth Omeruo, Ben Gibson and George Friend all missing. Central defenders Omeruo and Gibson were both sent off against Blues and miss out through suspension, with the latter also banned for next weekend's home clash with Millwall as it was his second red card of the campaign. Full-back Friend damaged an Achilles tendon during the same game and will join Seb Hines (thigh), Daniel Ayala (ankle), Rhys Williams (Achilles) and Stuart Parnaby (knee) on the sidelines. Striker Muzzy Carayol will miss the rest of the campaign, and perhaps the start of next, after undergoing surgery to repair his damaged anterior cruciate ligament.
Last season: Burnley 0 Middlesbrough 0, Middlesbrough 3 Burnley 2
Last five league matches: Burnley W W L D W; Middlesbrough L D W W W
Top scorers (all competitions): Danny Ings (Burnley) 25; Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) 12
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire)
Jamie Ward is set to return for Derby after missing the last four matches with a hamstring injury. Patrick Bamford and Johnny Russell have filled the wide attacking areas in the Northern Ireland international's absence and a fit-again Ward will add to the competition. Jeff Hendrick and Mason Bennett could also be back in the squad this weekend but attacking midfielder Simon Dawkins (groin) will remain out. Hendrick's run of four starts ended on Tuesday night when the midfielder missed the victory at Blackpool with a hip injury. Will Hughes returned to the starting line-up in place of Hendrick after his own hip flexor problem. Teenage striker Bennett has been recalled from his loan spell at Chesterfield, where he made six appearances.
Huddersfield boss Mark Robins has no new injury or suspension problems but back-to-back home defeats, which have left his side seven points above the relegation zone, may prompt several changes to his starting line-up. Midfield pair Duane Holmes and Jonathan Hogg, plus strikers Sean Scannell and Harry Bunn and defender Peter Clarke are all pushing for recalls. Midfielder Keith Southern (groin) and forward James Vaughan both remain sidelined, the latter scheduled to have surgery last week to remove a cyst from his knee.
Last season: Derby 3 Huddersfield 0, Huddersfield 1 Derby 0
Last five league matches: Derby W L W L W; Huddersfield L D D L L
Top scorers: Chris Martin (Derby) 20; James Vaughan (Huddersfield) 12
Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)
Ipswich left-back Aaron Cresswell expects to be fit despite struggling with a groin injury in midweek. The problem forced Cresswell off in the 2-0 win at Huddersfield but he has insisted that was just a precautionary measure and he should be fit to take on Rovers. Mick McCarthy could therefore name an unchanged side after the victory in West Yorkshire breathed new life into Town's play-off bid.
Doncaster captain Richie Wellens looks likely to miss the trip to Ipswich. Wellens played with the aid of a pain-killing injection against Bolton in midweek after suffering a foot injury during the win at Leeds at the end of last month, but the midfielder lasted just 34 minutes before he had to be substituted. Lucas Neill was also withdrawn against Bolton after feeling cramp in his hamstring and he will continue to be assessed by the club's medical staff in the run-up to the game.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Last five league matches: Ipswich W W D L W; Doncaster W L W L L
Top scorers (all competitions): David McGoldrick (Ipswich) 16; Chris Brown (Doncaster) 8
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)
Leeds could be without both Sam Byram and Rudy Austin as they look to halt a run of five straight defeats. Versatile defender Byram missed the midweek defeat at Watford due to a hamstring strain and midfielder Austin has been sidelined for the last two matches because of an ankle injury. Leading goalscorer Ross McCormack has shaken off the effects of illness and is available for selection, while the likes of striker Matt Smith, winger Cameron Stewart, plus Aidy White and Danny Pugh are all in contention.
Caretaker boss Barry Ferguson has trained with Blackpool's squad as he contemplates a playing return. Ferguson has not played since taking over in January and has an ankle problem which he claimed will need tending to before he can return on the pitch. Ferguson will remain without striker Ricardo Fuller (knee) while a similar problem is likely to rule out defender Kirk Broadfoot too. Robert Earnshaw has been frustrated by a calf injury since arriving at Bloomfield Road with Steve Davies, another attacking option, unlikely to return this term because of a groin strain.
Last season: Leeds 2 Blackpool 0, Blackpool 2 Leeds 1
Last five league matches: Leeds L L L L L; Blackpool W L D L L
Top scorers (all competitions): Ross McCormack (Leeds) 28; Ricardo Fuller (Blackpool) 6
Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)
Millwall will be without Ed Upson. The midfielder is suspended for amassing 10 yellow cards so manager Ian Holloway must make at least one change from the side which picked up vital wins at Nottingham Forest and Wigan. Defender Dan Shittu and midfielder Richard Chaplow (both Achilles) are still on the sidelines but striker Jermaine Easter could be added to the squad after a thigh injury.
Watford will be without Marco Cassetti but welcome back Fernando Forestieri and Fitz Hall. Cassetti begins a two-match suspension after being shown his 10th yellow card of the season in the midweek victory over Leeds. He joins Cristian Battocchio (knee), Lloyd Doyley (ankle) and Park Chu-young (toe) on the sidelines. However, Forestieri has recovered from his toe problem and is fit to return, while Hall is in line for his first appearance in two months having overcome an Achilles injury.
Last season: Millwall 1 Watford 0, Watford 0 Millwall 0
Last five league matches: Millwall L L D W W; Watford L D W D W
Top scorers (all competitions): Steve Morison & Martyn Woolford (Millwall) 7; Troy Deeney (Watford) 22
Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)
Sheffield Wednesday will be without striker Leon Best, who is ineligible for the match under the terms of his loan deal from Ewood Park, so Benik Afobe could start in his place. Central defender Glenn Loovens (hamstring) will again miss out, but Oguchi Onyewu has an outside chance of recovering from his back injury. Midfielder Sam Hutchinson missed Tuesday's 3-3 draw at Nottingham Forest with illness but he has recovered and is in contention.
Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes came off in the second half of the 2-0 midweek win over QPR after feeling the full force of a couple of tackles while strike partner Rudy Gestede and midfielder Dickson Etuhu, only just back from an ankle problem, may need checking over too. Midfielder Corry Evans could come back into the picture, though, as he was close to featuring on Tuesday despite his groin problem. Defender Adam Henley and winger Ben Marshall are both sidelined by long-term ankle injuries.
Last season: Sheff Wed 3 Blackburn 2, Blackburn 1 Sheff Wed 0
Last five league matches: Sheff Wed L W L L D; Blackburn D D D W W
Top scorers: Chris Maguire (Sheff Wed) 8; Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn) 23
Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)
Yeovil boss Gary Johnson has a goalkeeping dilemma. Glovers' number two Chris Dunn featured in the 3-2 loss at Charlton in midweek but first choice Marek Stech is now available after illness. Kieffer Moore will hope to be included in the team having netted following his half-time introduction at The Valley as the Glovers look for a much-needed three points.
Bournemouth will check on top scorer Lewis Grabban. Their 20-goal forward, who has scored five in his last four Championship outings, was taken off with five minutes to go of Tuesday's 3-1 win over Reading with a slight groin problem. Howe will remain without midfielder Harry Arter who serves the second game of his three-match ban so Eunan O'Kane will continue to deputise, but if Grabban is passed fit the Cherries are likely to be unchanged.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Last five league matches: Yeovil D D L W L; Bournemouth W W W W W
Top scorers (all competitions): Ishmael Miller (Yeovil) 10; Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth) 20
Referee: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire)
Monday, March 14
Reading midfielder Danny Guthrie is awaiting the results of a scan on the calf problem he suffered in the warm-up prior to Tuesday's 3-1 defeat at Bournemouth amid fears he could miss the rest of the season. Danny Williams is also set to miss out with a knee injury while Hope Akpan, Garath McCleary and Michael Hector have all been carrying knocks. Mikele Leigertwood made his first appearance in a year as a substitute against the Cherries following a long-term ankle injury and should be involved again.
Leicester boss Nigel Pearson could freshen things up as the Foxes look for a return to winning ways. Striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher came off the bench to score in the 4-1 defeat to Brighton and will be hoping he has done enough to earn a recall to the starting XI. Pearson, whose side clinched promotion to the Barclays Premier League last weekend, will monitor forward Jamie Vardy, who has missed the last three matches with a groin injury.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Last five league matches: Reading W L D W L; Leicester D W D W L
Top scorers (all competitions): Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 13; David Nugent (Leicester) 20
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)