Sky Bet Championship briefing

  • Last Updated: May 2 2014, 11:37 BST

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

Stephen Dobbie: Desperate to help keep Blackpool up
Stephen Dobbie: Desperate to help keep Blackpool up

Saturday, May 3

Barnsley v QPR

Barnsley boss Danny Wilson will include several of the club's up-and-coming players in his squad. Danny Rose was recently recalled from his loan spell at Bury, while fellow young forwards Jordan Clark and Rhys Oates, plus midfielders McCauley Shillito and Brad Abbott could be in contention. Wilson has allowed most of the players who have been on loan at Oakwell to return to their parent clubs, but Crystal Palace defender Peter Ramage is expected to feature after recovering from a hamstring injury.

QPR will be without Jermaine Jenas, who suffered a cruciate injury in training last week and faces at least six months on the sidelines. Fellow midfielder Ale Faurlin (knee) and winger Matty Philips (ankle) are also long-term absentees for Rangers. Left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto could be recalled after missing last weekend's 1-1 draw with Millwall while boss Harry Redknapp may rest the likes of Richard Dunne and Charlie Austin ahead of the play-offs.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris O'Grady (Barnsley) 13; Charlie Austin (QPR) 17

Referee: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire)

Our Verdict: Barnsley 1 QPR 1

Blackburn v Wigan

Winger Ben Marshall will be in Blackburn's squad having been absent since the end of January because of an ankle ligament injury and it was feared he may not play again this season. Midfield trio David Dunn (calf), Dickson Etuhu (hamstring) and Jason Lowe (ankle) are all available to Rovers manager Gary Bowyer. The only definite absentees are full-backs Adam Henley (ankle) and Tommy Spurr (groin).

Wigan manager Uwe Rosler has vowed to give some of his fringe players a run-out after they secured their play-off spot. Rosler has had to negotiate a hectic fixture list and, given his side will now play at least 61 competitive fixtures this term, the likes of defensive duo Juan Carlos Garcia and Thomas Rogne and forward Nicky Maynard could all be given a chance to impress. Centre-back Ivan Ramis (hamstring) is close to a return but Tuesday's win means he may be given a little more time to recover. Meanwhile, Ben Watson (broken leg) and fellow midfielder Chris McCann (knee) remain absent.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn) 24; Nick Powell (Wigan) 12

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)

Our Verdict: Blackburn 2 Wigan 1

Blackpool v Charlton

Barry Ferguson expects to have a similar squad available when Blackpool host Charlton hoping to avoid the slim chance of them being relegated. Even if they were to lose to the Addicks, Millwall, Doncaster and Birmingham would all need to win for Ferguson's men to be relegated. Striker Ricardo Fuller (knee) could play more of a role after coming back at the DW Stadium but Robert Earnshaw (calf) is still out while fellow forward Apostolos Vellios returned to Everton after a disappointing loan spell. Ferguson (ankle) himself looks unlikely to play and will undergo an operation next week while Gary MacKenzie, Jack Robinson, Angel Martinez and Steve Davies are all still sidelined.

Rhoys Wiggins remains Charlton's only injury absentee. The defender has been out since suffering a fractured metatarsal three weeks ago so youngster Morgan Fox will continue at left-back. With their survival secured after Tuesday night's 3-1 win over Watford, boss Jose Riga could give a run-out to some of his fringe players such as Joe Pigott, Danny Green and Piotr Parzyszek. Right-back Chris Solly could drop down to the bench having played two matches in three days not long after returning from a lengthy absence with a knee injury.

Last season: Charlton 2 Blackpool 1, Blackpool 0 Charlton 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Ricardo Fuller (Blackpool) 6; Marvin Sordell (Charlton) 8

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

Our Verdict: Blackpool 0 Charlton 0

Bolton v Birmingham

Dougie Freedman is likely to turn to his Bolton youngsters once more. Wanderers have had nothing to play for recently and Freedman has taken the opportunity to blood the likes of Andy Kellett, Hayden White, Oscar Threlkeld and Chris Lester. Midfielder Andy Robinson, meanwhile, could be considered for a debut after arriving on a youth loan from Southampton prior to the deadline. Freedman's casualty list is significant and Joe Riley (knee), Marc Tierney (broken leg), Andre Moritz (hamstring), Darren Pratley (shoulder), Mark Davies (groin) and Stuart Holden (knee) will be more focused on returning to fitness over the summer. Full-back pair Alan Hutton (knee) and Alex Baptiste (hip) have both been missing of late while midfielder Medo Kamara has been hampered by illness.

Lee Clark will look to Paul Robinson for a captain's performance as he returns from suspension in a match Birmingham simply must not lose. Peter Lovenkrands is fit to play after overcoming an ankle injury which has forced him to miss the last two games, while Lee Novak faces a late fitness test. Nikola Zigic and Jordon Ibe are attacking options for Clark should he wish to go at the Trotters in search of all three points. One could be enough for the Blues given 21st-placed Doncaster travel to Leicester on what will be a tense final day for the sides near the bottom of the Sky Bet Championship.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jermaine Beckford (Bolton) 9; Federico Macheda and Lee Novak (Birmingham) 10

Referee: Iain Williamson (Berkshire)

Our Verdict: Bolton 3 Birmingham 1

Ipswich v Sheffield Wednesday

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is a doubt for Ipswich's final game of the season. Hamstring problems have limited the former Wolves striker to just two starts since joining Town on a short-term deal in December and he could leave without making another appearance. Mick McCarthy may decide to hand opportunities to youngsters Frederic Veseli and Jack Marriott but will once again be unable to call upon striker David McGoldrick (knee).

Sheffield Wednesday will be boosted by the return of Chris Maguire and Sam Hutchinson. Striker Maguire missed last week's home defeat to Bolton as he attended his grandmother's funeral, while on-loan Chelsea midfielder Hutchinson has completed a two-match ban. Liam Palmer (hip) will miss out again and fellow defender Lewis Buxton (knee) remains doubtful. Teenager Jack Stobbs made his debut off the bench against Bolton when replacing defender Joe Mattock and will be hoping to feature again.

Last season: Sheff Wed 1 Ipswich 1, Ipswich 0 Sheff Wed 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): David McGoldrick (Ipswich) 16; Chris Maguire (Sheff Wed) 10

Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire)

Our Verdict: Ipswich 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0

Leeds v Derby

Leeds will be without injured pair Alex Mowatt and Sam Byram. Teenage midfielder Mowatt sustained a knee injury in last week's win at Birmingham, while midfielder/defender Byram is still recovering from a hamstring strain that has ruled him out of the last five matches. Left-back Stephen Warnock remains doubtful with the ankle injury that kept him out last week and winger Jimmy Kebe (hamstring) is not expected to feature after being sidelined since early March. Defender Zac Thompson is hoping to retain his place in the squad and make his first league appearance for the club since April 2012.

Derby boss Steve McClaren has plenty of options at his disposal. Club captain Shaun Barker (knee), fellow defender James O'Connor (thigh) and midfielder Paul Coutts (knee) are the only players unavailable as they continue their rehabilitation from long-term injuries. Conor Sammon missed the home win over Watford with a rib problem but the striker resumed full training this week and is back in contention.

Last season: Leeds 1 Derby 2, Derby 3 Leeds 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Ross McCormack (Leeds) 29; Chris Martin (Derby) 23

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

Our Verdict: Leeds 2 Derby 0

Leicester v Doncaster

Champions Leicester will be without Jamie Vardy (groin) and Matty James (appendix) when they conclude their record-breaking campaign. However, Jeff Schlupp is fit again after a knee injury and the striker-turned-left-back will come back into contention for a place in the squad.

Only long-term absentee Rob Jones, who recently underwent a knee operation, will miss out for Doncaster. Defenders Lucas Neill and James Husband (both hamstring), winger Mark Duffy and even Harry Forrester (knee), whose first season with Rovers has been plagued by a series of injury problems, are all fit again and in contention. Captain Richie Wellens (foot) returned to action last weekend as a second-half substitute against Reading. Victory will guarantee Doncaster's survival but Rovers will also stay up if they match Birmingham's result at Bolton.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): David Nugent (Leicester) 21; Chris Brown (Doncaster) 9

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

Our Verdict: Leicester 3 Doncaster 2

Millwall v Bournemouth

Millwall winger Lee Martin was carried off on a stretcher with a deep cut to his shin during the first half of last weekend's 1-1 draw at QPR and looks set to miss out against the Cherries. Defender Dan Shittu (Achilles) remains on the sidelines and midfielder Ed Upson (ankle) is out. The Lions know a victory will guarantee their Sky Bet Championship status for another season.

Bournemouth will be without Elliott Ward. The 29-year-old defender, who has made 25 appearances this season, went under the knife on Tuesday to rectify a knee problem and he will be sidelined for the next three months. Norwich loanee Andrew Surman is set to start for the Cherries in what could be his final game for the club with his future up in the air and Eddie Howe is unlikely to make too many changes as they look for their highest-ever finish.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Steve Morison and Martyn Woolford (Millwall) 8; Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth) 22

Referee: Michael Naylor (Sheffield)

Our Verdict: Millwall 1 Bournemouth 2

Nottingham Forest v Brighton

Forest defender Greg Halford has been handed a three-match suspension having been retrospectively punished by the Football Association for an incident during the defeat at Bournemouth last weekend. With Jamaal Lascelles fighting a knee injury, Halford's absence could leave Danny Collins as the only available recognised centre-half. Goalkeeper Karl Darlow and forward Jamie Paterson remain doubts. Darlow has been on the sidelines for the last two games with a shoulder injury while Paterson missed the Bournemouth game.

Brighton duo Matt Upson and Dale Stephens are doubts with ankle injuries. Defender Upson, who was this week named Albion's player of the year, missed last Friday's 2-0 win over Yeovil while midfielder Stephens limped off in the second half. Striker Will Hoskins is available after a long-term knee problem but midfielder Andrew Crofts is recovering from a cruciate injury. The Seagulls need a victory at the City Ground and Reading to drop points against Burnley to snatch the final play-off spot.

Last season: Nottm Forest 2 Brighton 2, Brighton 0 Nottm Forest 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jamie Paterson (Nottm Forest) 12; Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton) 15

Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

Our Verdict: Nottingham Forest 0 Brighton 2

Reading v Burnley

Hal Robson-Kanu should be back in the Reading squad. The winger missed last weekend's 3-1 win at Doncaster after suffering a nasty facial injury against Middlesbrough four days earlier, but he is set to return wearing a protective mask. However, the Royals still have injury problems with midfielders Danny Guthrie (calf), Danny Williams and Jem Karacan (both knee) all on the sidelines. Nigel Adkins' side need to match or better Brighton's result at Nottingham Forest to secure their place in the play-offs.

Burnley remain without just Sam Vokes and Luke O'Neill as they bring their glorious season to an end. Wales international striker Vokes had a routine check-up on Wednesday and received good news on his knee ligament injury - although he is still in the early stages of his rehabilitation - while full-back O'Neill is missing with a thigh strain. Boss Sean Dyche named an unchanged XI against Ipswich, despite seeing the Clarets book their automatic promotion spot earlier in the week, and could name a strong team once more as they bid to finish on a high.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 15; Danny Ings (Burnley) 25

Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)

Our Verdict: Reading 2 Burnley 2

Watford v Huddersfield

Watford will be without winger Albert Riera, who will serve a one-match ban after his sending-off in the midweek defeat at Charlton. Almen Abdi, Lewis McGugan (both knee), Manuel Almunia (Achilles), Davide Faraoni (hip), Fernando Forestieri and Park Chu-young (both toe) have all been ruled out of the season finale. Joel Ekstrand and Marco Cassetti are, however, available to coach Giuseppe Sannino, who has suggested he will play some younger players in the dead rubber.

Huddersfield manager Mark Robins is expected to select his starting line-up from an unchanged squad. Robins has no new selection issues, but striker James Vaughan (knee) and midfielder Keith Southern (groin) both remain sidelined. Danish teenager Philip Billing is hoping to feature again after making his first senior appearance off the bench in last week's home defeat to Leicester, while forward Joe Lolley is also in contention again after he too appeared as a second-half substitute.

Last season: Watford 4 Huddersfield 0, Huddersfield 2 Watford 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Troy Deeney (Watford) 24; James Vaughan (Huddersfield) 12

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)

Our Verdict: Watford 3 Huddersfield 1

Yeovil v Middlesbrough

Yeovil will be without Tom Lawrence, who has returned to his parent club Manchester United. Glovers boss Gary Johnson could shuffle his pack for their final match before relegation back to Sky Bet League One with the likes of Liam Davis, Kevin Dawson and Sam Foley pushing for starts.

Boro full-back George Friend missed last weekend's 3-1 home win over Barnsley with a groin injury and he is being assessed after treatment. Grant Leadbitter is also being looked at as he battles against a back problem. Striker Kei Kamara is back in training after hernia surgery but may not be risked, while defenders Rhys Williams (Achilles), Stuart Parnaby (knee) and frontman Muzzy Carayol (anterior cruciate ligament) remain on the long-term casualty list.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Ishmael Miller (Yeovil) 10; Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) 12

Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)

Our Verdict: Yeovil 1 Middlesbrough 1

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