Blades and Dons to deliver

  • Last Updated: August 15 2014, 18:40 BST

Sheffield United and MK Dons are both backed to win in our Sky Bet League 1 preview package.

Nigel Clough's Sheffield United can pick up three points
Nigel Clough's Sheffield United can pick up three points

Take a look at Nick Hext's best bets for the Sky Bet League 1 weekend fixtures. Match-by-match score verdicts and team news are also now available.

Back Sheffield United to beat Coventry

Sheffield United started the season with a disappointing 2-1 defeat at home to Bristol City but I still think they'll be amongst the promotion contenders. Nigel Clough's men only just missed out on the play-offs last season with a memorable late push and there's still quality in their squad. Coventry are once again playing their 'home' games in Northampton this term and I don't expect their points return from Sixfields to be too spectacular. The Blades are the team to back.

Back MK Dons to beat Peterborough

MK Dons are my tip to win promotion from League 1 and they look decent value to emerge from an interesting clash against Peterborough with three points. The Dons showed their mettle by battling back from 2-0 down to beat Gillingham 4-2 last Saturday and that kind of spirit will help them in the months ahead. Peterborough are expected to be one of the sides challenging at the top of the table but I think it might take a little bit of time to get over the loss of Britt Assombalonga to Nottingham Forest.

Team news & score verdicts (league position in brackets)

Saturday, August 16

Bristol City (5) v Colchester (10)

Bristol City's Karleigh Osborne, who missed the opening-day win at Sheffield United, came through the Robins' midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Oxford unscathed and could feature. Steve Cotterill made eight changes for that 2-1 loss but is likely to recall most of the side that started at Bramall Lane.

Colchester captain Magnus Okuonghae is suspended after being sent off in Tuesday's Capital One Cup defeat at Charlton for handball. Teenage midfielder Jack Curtis travelled with the squad in midweek and is set to be involved again, while fellow 18-year-old Frankie Kent could be thrown in as cover for Okuonghae.

Last season: Colchester 2 Bristol City 2 Bristol City 1 Colchester 1

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

Top scorers: Wade Elliott (Bristol City) 1 Joe Bryan (Bristol City) 1 Aaron Wilbraham (Bristol City) 1

Referee: Brendan Malone (Wiltshire)

Our verdict: Bristol City 1 Colchester 0

Chesterfield (6) v Rochdale (21)

Ritchie Humphreys is a major doubt for Chesterfield after being forced off injured during the Capital One Cup defeat to Huddersfield in midweek. Ollie Banks could replace him, while Ian Evatt and Sam Hird will form the Spireites' central defensive partnership after Liam Cooper's move to Leeds this week.

Rochdale's two new signings Stephen Dawson and Tom Kennedy could both be included in manager Keith Hill's squad. New striker Calvin Andrew is hoping to make his first league start but summer signing Jack Muldoon (groin) is not yet in contention.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Chesterfield D W W W W; Rochdale L W W L L

Top scorers: Eoin Doyle (Chesterfield) 2;

Referee: Carl Boyeson (E Yorkshire)

Our verdict: Chesterfield 1 Rochdale 1

Coventry (16) v Sheff Utd (19)

Reda Johnson could return for Coventry despite suffering a slight strain at Bradford last weekend. Ryan Haynes could be pushing for first-team duty on a regular basis after being one of several youngsters to impress in the midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Cardiff.

Sheffield United are expected to make wholesale changes again following the midweek Capital One Cup win against Mansfield. Michael Higdon, Craig Alcock, Chris Basham, Stefan Scougall, Jamie Murphy and Ryan Flynn will all return to contention after being rested, but summer-signing James Wallace (groin) remains sidelined.

Last season: Sheff Utd 2 Coventry 1 Coventry 3 Sheff Utd 2

Last five league matches: Coventry L D D L L; Sheff Utd D W D W L

Top scorers: Reda Johnson (Coventry) 2; Michael Higdon (Sheff Utd) 1 Marc McNulty (Sheff Utd) 1 Andy

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)

Our verdict: Coventry 1 Sheffield United 2

Crawley Town (8) v Swindon (3)

Josh Simpson (ankle) and Gavin Tomlin (hamstring) are injury doubts for Crawley . Forward Matt Harrold is still recovering from a knee operation and youngster Bradley Isaacs has an ankle injury.

Swindon will be without Brad Smith after the 20-year-old Liverpool loanee suffered a medial knee ligament injury. Louis Thompson will be assessed after he had to be substituted in the 2-1 win over Luton in midweek following a nasty tackle late on.

Last season: Swindon 1 Crawley Town 1 Crawley Town 0 Swindon 0

Last five league matches: Crawley Town L L D D W; Swindon W W L L W

Top scorers: Izale McLeod (Crawley Town) 2 ; Michael Smith (Swindon) 4

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

Our verdict: Crawley 1 Swindon 1

Crewe (17) v Barnsley (20)

Long-term absentees Harry Davis and Ryan Colclough are not expected to be involved just yet as Crewe face Barnsley for the second time in five days. New loan signings Jamie Ness and Greg Leigh could feature after joining the club from Stoke and Manchester City respectively.

Barnsley's Leroy Lita and Keith Treacy are expected to make their first league starts for the club, while Kane Hemmings is not yet ready for action. Defender Joe Dudgeon could return after being rested, but winger Dale Jennings sits out the second of his three-match ban.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Bradden Inman (Crewe) 1 Matt Tootle (Crewe) 1 Billy Waters (Crewe) 1 ;

Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire)

Our verdict: Crewe 2 Barnsley 2

Doncaster (1) v Port Vale (13)

Doncaster boss Paul Dickov has a full squad available after Jamie McCombe (spine) made his long-awaited return against York on Tuesday night. Fellow defenders Reece Wabara and Rob Jones should return despite a lack of game-time, with the latter having only recently returned from a serious neck injury.

Michael O'Connor faces a late fitness test and is a major doubt for Port Vale. Richard Duffy could be restored at the back after he sat out the cup game in midweek after returning from an ankle injury in the 1-1 league draw with Walsall.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Doncaster L D L L W; Port Vale W L L D D

Top scorers: Harry Forrester (Doncaster) 2; Ben Williamson (Port Vale) 3 Tom Pope (Port Vale) 3

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Doncaster 1 Port Vale 3

Gillingham (22) v Yeovil (24)

Gillingham will again have Glenn Morris deputising for injured goalkeeper Stuart Nelson (thumb) - just four days after beating the same team 2-1 in the Capital One Cup. The Gills have yet to discover how long Nelson or Cody McDonald will be out after sustaining opening-day injuries.

Yeovil will be without suspended defender Seth Nana Twumasi who saw red in midweek. Kevin Dawson is set for a return after an ankle problem, but winger Joel Grant (ligament damage) remains two weeks away from a first-team return.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Cody McDonald (Gillingham) 1 Danny Kedwell (Gillingham) 1 Aaron Morris (Gillingham) 1 Brennan Dickenson (Gillingham)

Referee: Lee Collins (Surrey)

Our verdict: Gillingham 0 Yeovil 0

Notts County (12) v Fleetwood Town (7)

Notts County will check on Mustapha Dumbuya and Zeli Ismail (hamstring). Experienced midfielder Garry Thompson (knee) is still out while striker Danny Haynes (ankle) is also unavailable.

Cod Army manager Graham Alexander is sweating on the fitness of on-loan Stephen Dobbie, forced off with an ankle injury on his debut last week. Jamille Matt is definitely out after a leg injury sidelined him for the season, while the game may come too soon for Mark Roberts and Danny Andrew.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Notts County L W W D D; Fleetwood Town W W D L

Top scorers: Jake Cassidy (Notts County) 1 ; David Ball (Fleetwood Town) 1 Jamie Proctor (Fleetwood Town)

Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)

Our verdict: Notts County 1 Fleetwood 2

Oldham (11) v Leyton Orient (18)

Jonathan Forte could return after being rested in the 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat to Middlesbrough. George Elokobi may make keep his place after making his first start for the club in midweek but Rhys Turner is a long-term absentee with a hip injury.

Darius Henderson (neck) may feature for Orient but fellow striker Chris Dagnall (ankle) is set to miss out again. Lloyd James (knee) and forward Shaun Batt (calf) limped off in midweek and are both doubtful but Scott Cuthbert is in line for a return after recovering from a groin injury.

Last season: Leyton Orient 1 Oldham 1 Oldham 1 Leyton Orient 1

Last five league matches: Oldham D W D D D; Leyton Orient L L W W L

Top scorers: Jonathan Forte (Oldham) 2 ; Mathieu Baudry (Leyton Orient) 1 Dean Cox (Leyton Orient) 1

Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Oldham 2 Leyton Orient 3

Peterborough (9) v MK Dons (2)

Jon Taylor (knee) comes back into contention for Peterborough after missing the Capital One Cup defeat at Portsmouth in midweek. Centre-halves Jack Baldwin (knee) and Gabby Zakuani (calf) will join Joe Newell (broken toe) and Erhun Oztumer on the sidelines.

Samir Carruthers (thigh) will be the only absentee for the Dons. Dean Bowditch and Will Grigg will be hoping for recalls after sitting out the Capital One Cup tie in midweek, while Mark Randall, George Baldock and Tom Hitchcock are also options for boss Karl Robinson.

Last season: MK Dons 0 Peterborough 2 Peterborough 2 MK Dons 1

Last five league matches: Peterborough L W W D W; MK Dons L D D L

Top scorers: Kyle Vassell (Peterborough) 1 ; Kyle McFadzean (Milton Keynes Dons) 2

Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

Our verdict: Peterborough 1 MK Dons 2

Scunthorpe (23) v Preston (14)

Scunthorpe pair Sam Slocombe and Niall Canavan face late fitness tests after both sustained shoulder injuries in their Capital One Cup win at Blackburn. Deon Burton (knee) is also doubtful after missing out in midweek, while midfielder Dave Syers (knee ligaments) has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Preston's top scorer last season, Joe Garner, is expected to return after missing his side's Capital One Cup win at Rochdale as a precaution. Kyel Reid and Lee Holmes will not feature. Summer arrival Reid is on the road to recovery from a ligament injury and Holmes has a chest problem.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Scunthorpe D W L D L; Preston L W W L D

Top scorers: Paddy Madden (Scunthorpe) 1 Neal Bishop (Scunthorpe) 1 ; Andrew Little (Preston) 1 Joe Garner

Referee: Andrew Madley (West Yorkshire)

Our verdict: Scunthorpe 1 Preston 3

Walsall (15) v Bradford (4)

New signing Anthony Forde will be in contention for his Walsall debut after joining from Wolves on a two-year contract. The Saddlers are still without midfielder Sam Mantom, defender Ben Purkiss and striker Jordan Cook, but all three are making progress.

Bradford's new loan signing Mason Bennett is hoping to make his first appearance following his arrival from Derby, while Jordan Pickford is likely to return in goal. Midfielder Gary Liddle is back in contention after the birth of his daughter, but defender Alan Sheehan misses out due to a family bereavement.

Last season: Bradford 0 Walsall 2 Walsall 0 Bradford 2

Last five league matches: Walsall D D L L D; Bradford W L W W W

Top scorers: Kieron Morris (Walsall) 1 Malvind Benning (Walsall) 1 Tom Bradshaw (Walsall) 1 ; James Hanson

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire)

Our verdict: Walsall 2 Bradford 0