Sky Bet Championship briefing

  • Last Updated: December 21 2013, 15:03 GMT

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

Clint Hill: Available for selection for QPR
Clint Hill: Available for selection for QPR

Saturday, December 21

QPR v Leicester

Midfielder Yossi Benayoun could make his QPR debut - he joined on a short-term deal last week but did not feature at Blackpool as he continued to work on his fitness. Skipper Clint Hill is available despite going off at half-time due to illness at Bloomfield Road but midfielder Alejandro Faurlin (cruciate) and striker Bobby Zamora (knee) are absentees.

Leicester strikers Chris Wood (hamstring) and Tom Hopper (shin) and defender Sean St Ledger (groin) remain on the sidelines. Defenders Ritchie De Laet and Liam Moore, midfielders Dean Hammond and Matty James and strikers Jamie Vardy and Jeff Schlupp all started on the bench against City on Tuesday and are options should Nigel Pearson wish to make any changes.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Charlie Austin (QPR) 11; David Nugent (Leicester) 11

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

Our verdict: QPR 3 Leicester 1

Birmingham v Nottingham Forest

Lee Novak is again likely to sit out for the hosts with a leg injury. Boss Lee Clark has no new injury or suspension concerns to contend with and could well stick with the same XI that won at Bournemouth. Mitch Hancox, David Murphy, Matt Green, Neal Eardley (all knee), Jonathan Spector (thigh) and Akwasi Asante (hamstring) remain sidelined.

On-loan Sunderland midfielder David Vaughan is pushing for a return to the Forest squad after a hamstring injury. Darius Henderson is still not fully fit, while Danny Collins (ankle) has stepped up his training but this game will probably come too soon for him. Collins' central defensive partner Kelvin Wilson continues his recovery from a back injury.

Last season: Birmingham 2 Nottm Forest 1, Nottm Forest 2 Birmingham 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jesse Lingard (Birmingham) 6; Andy Reid (Nottm Forest) 6

Referee: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire)

Our verdict: Birmingham 1 Nottingham Forest 2

Bolton v Charlton

Bolton boss Dougie Freedman may start Mark Davies. The midfielder made his first appearance since February as a substitute in the final 10 minutes of the loss at Wigan and Freedman now believes he is ready to play from the first whistle following his knee injury. Stuart Holden (knee) will not train again properly until the new year. A similar timescale has been given to goalkeeper Adam Bodgan while fellow knee injury victim Joe Riley (knee) and Marc Tierney (foot) are still absent.

Charlton will be without Ben Hamer, Johnnie Jackson and Marvin Sordell. Hamer has yet to recover from an ankle injury so Ben Alnwick continues in goal, skipper Jackson is in the middle of a three-match ban and striker Sordell is ineligible to play under the terms of his loan from the Reebok Stadium. Leon Cort remains sidelined by a knee injury but fellow defender Chris Solly was an unused substitute against Derby last weekend following his knee problem and should be involved again.

Last season: Charlton 3 Bolton 2, Bolton 2 Charlton 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jermaine Beckford (Bolton) 6; Simon Church (Charlton) 5

Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands)

Our verdict: Bolton 1 Charlton 0

Brighton v Huddersfield

Craig Conway has returned to Cardiff after his loan spell came to an end, so Kazenga LuaLua could start his first match for Brighton since knee surgery. Fellow winger Will Buckley may return to the squad after ankle trouble but keeper Tomasz Kuszczak (stomach) and defender Gordon Greer (calf) remain doubts and midfielder Andrea Orlandi (knee) won't be rushed back.

Town defender Murray Wallace is set to step in for the suspended Joel Lynch. Manager Mark Robins has no new selection issues but top scorer James Vaughan (ankle) remains sidelined and midfielder Jonathan Hogg (hip) is still struggling. Midfielders Keith Southern and Duane Holmes are in contention for recalls and striker Cristian Lopez is pushing for a start.

Last season: Brighton 4 Huddersfield 1, Huddersfield 1 Brighton 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Ashley Barnes (Brighton) 6; James Vaughan (Huddersfield) 12

Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire)

Our verdict: Brighton 2 Huddersfield 1

Burnley v Blackpool

The Clarets have no new injury or suspension concerns - winger Ross Wallace remains the only injury absentee with a knee injury continuing to keep him occupying the sidelines.

Isaiah Osbourne is out for five weeks with a hamstring strain, he joins full-back Bradley Orr (thigh) and centre-back Gary MacKenzie (hip) on the sidelines. Craig Cathcart is a doubt with a back problem but utility man Neal Bishop has returned from suspension, while Ricardo Fuller and Angel Martinez complete their respective bans.

Last season: Blackpool 1 Burnley 0, Burnley 1 Blackpool 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Danny Ings (Burnley) 16; Tom Ince (Blackpool) 6

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)

Our verdict: Burnley 1 Blackpool 1

Derby v Doncaster

Leading scorer Chris Martin is an injury concern for Derby - the 13-goal striker has a shin injury which will be assessed ahead of the game. Will Hughes is set to return to the squad after illness but on-loan defender Zak Whitbread continues to work his way back from a calf injury which has kept him out of action since October.

Yun Suk-Young and Harry Forrester could be pushing for places in the Doncaster squad after injury problems and midfielder Paul Keegan is another player likely to come back into contention over the Christmas period, with manager Paul Dickov believing that early in the new year his squad will be as close to full fitness as it has been at any stage this season.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris Martin (Derby) 13; Theo Robinson (Doncaster) 4

Referee: Nigel Miller (Durham)

Our verdict: Derby 3 Doncaster 0

Ipswich v Watford

Striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is available to make his Ipswich debut, otherwise Mick boss McCarthy is expected to boast a fully-fit squad - with frontman Paul Taylor likely to have recovered from illness.

New Watford boss Giuseppe Sannino is boosted by the return of defenders Joel Ekstrand and Lloyd Doyley from suspension and a hamstring injury respectively. However, Marco Faraoni (ankle) now faces a couple of weeks in the treatment room and joins Almen Abdi (foot), Essaid Belkalem and Tommie Hoban (both ankle) on the sidelines.

Last season: Ipswich 0 Watford 2, Watford 0 Ipswich 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): David McGoldrick (Ipswich) 8; Troy Deeney (Watford) 9

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)

Our verdict: Ipswich 1 Watford 0

Leeds v Barnsley

Leeds defender Danny Pugh faces a late fitness test on a knock but Scott Wootton is in contention after ankle trouble and fellow defender Adam Drury and winger Dominic Poleon also played for the development squad in midweek. Noel Hunt (hamstring) is closing in on a return but fellow striker El-Hadji Diouf is unlikely to feature despite returning to training this week.

Barnsley striker Chris O'Grady could return after a calf strain but winger Paddy McCourt is doubtful with a hamstring injury, so Jim O'Brien is on stand-by. Goalkeeper Luke Steele remains sidelined with a back problem.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Ross McCormack (Leeds) 17; Chris O'Grady (Barnsley) 7

Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

Our verdict: Leeds 4 Barnsley 1

Reading v Wigan

Danny Guthrie returns to Reading's squad after a ban and fellow midfielder Chris Baird will also be in contention if he can prove his fitness following a sprained ankle. However, the Royals are without defenders Wayne Bridge and Sean Morrison (both knee), midfielders Jem Karacan (cruciate) and Mikele Leigertwood (ankle) and striker Jason Roberts (hip).

Wigan boss Uwe Rosler has vowed to shuffle his pack again. Striker Grant Holt, via his Twitter account, has assured fans he was being careful with a knee injury from earlier in the season, while Callum McManaman may return. Goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi (knee) is nearing full fitness, Gary Caldwell (hip) played for the development squad on Monday but Shaun Maloney (shoulder) and Juan Carlos Garcia (ankle) remain sidelined.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 7; Nick Powell (Wigan) 7

Referee: Gary Sutton (Lincolnshire)

Our verdict: Reading 1 Wigan 2

Sheffield Wednesday v Bournemouth

Wednesday midfielder Giles Coke hopes to return after a hamstring injury but caretaker boss Stuart Gray is still without winger Michail Antonio (knee) and Joe Mattock (thigh), while fellow defender Lewis Buxton (hamstring) is still struggling.

Josh McQuoid has regained full fitness and is available for Bournemouth but centre-back Elliott Ward is not yet ready to return after a calf muscle problem. Winger Mohamed Coulibaly is back in training after Achilles and calf problems but this game comes too soon for him, while goalkeeper Shwan Jalal will not figure after being told he can leave the club.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Connor Wickham (Sheff Wed) 7; Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth) 8

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Bournemouth 2

Yeovil v Blackburn

Glovers boss Gary Johnson waits on the fitness of keeper Chris Dunn (thigh), with Marek Stech on stand-by. Stech has been missing since August - when he broke his hand - but has returned to training and is available to feature against Blackburn.

DJ Campbell could make his first appearance for Rovers since he was arrested and bailed in the spot-fixing investigation - boss Gary Boywer has confirmed he is available for selection again this weekend. Winger Josh King (leg) and midfielder Lee Williamson (foot) are available, Corry Evans (ankle) resumed light training this week but goalkeeper Paul Robinson and midfielder Dickson Etuhu (ankle) are not yet ready to play.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Edward Upson (Yeovil) 5; Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn) 12

Referee: Iain Williamson (Berkshire)

Our verdict: Yeovil 1 Blackburn 3

Millwall v Middlesbrough

Millwall will check on Alan Dunne's badly-gashed knee. Justin Hoyte cannot replace him as he is on loan from Boro, while boss Steve Lomas admitted he was considering changes at the back anyway following the Blackburn defeat, so Danny Shittu and Shane Lowry are in contention for recalls. Boro old boy Nicky Bailey (knee) and fellow midfielders Richard Chaplow (groin) and Lee Martin (hamstring) are still out so Lomas has recalled Josh Wright from his loan at Leyton Orient.

Boro defender Jonathan Woodgate is battling to recover from a thigh problem in time to figure. Striker Marvin Emnes. who missed the Brighton defeat with a slight hamstring injury, has a chance of returning after nursing the strain this week but goalkeeper Jason Steele (ankle), striker Kei Kamara (knee) and full-back Andy Halliday (hernia) will not feature.

Last season: Middlesbrough 1 Millwall 2, Millwall 3 Middlesbrough 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Steve Morison & Martyn Woolford (Millwall) 4; Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) 7

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

Our verdict: Millwall 1 Middlesbrough 1

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