Sky Bet Championship briefing

  • Last Updated: December 27 2013, 16:34 GMT

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

Billy Davies' Nottingham Forest host Leeds on Sunday
Billy Davies' Nottingham Forest host Leeds on Sunday

(Current league positions in brackets)

Sunday, December 29

Barnsley (24) v Derby (4)

Jacob Mellis will return to contention for Barnsley following suspension while defender Lewin Nyatanga, rested after recently returning from a calf injury, could be recalled. Winger Paddy McCourt is another player pushing for a recall after he played the last 21 minutes on Boxing Day following a hamstring injury.

Derby hope midfielders Will Hughes (groin) and Jeff Hendrick (concussion) will be available for the game at Oakwell. Skipper Richard Keogh is out for around a month with a knee injury but Johnny Russell, Conor Sammon, Mason Bennett, Kalifa Cisse and Kieron Freeman are available should boss Steve McClaren wish to make any changes to his starting line up.

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

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

Top scorers: Chris O'Grady (Barnsley) 7; Chris Martin (Derby) 13

Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire)

Our verdict: Barnsley 1 Derby 3

Blackburn (11) v Birmingham (18)

Gary Bowyer could hand a start to Josh King after the Norwegian international recovered from a dead leg in time to come off the bench at half-time during the goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day. Corry Evans and Dickson Etuhu are doubts with respective ankle injuries and it is unlikely either will feature.

Striker Jesse Lingard starts a three-match suspension for the Blues after seeing red in the goalless draw at Wigan and could now have potentially played his last game for them with his current loan agreement set to expire on New Year's Day. Birmingham boast no fresh injury concerns but boss Lee Clark has vowed to make changes over the hectic festive fixture schedule.

Last season: Birmingham 1 Blackburn 1, Blackburn 1 Birmingham 1

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

Top scorers: Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn) 13; Jesse Lingard (Birmingham) 6

Referee: Scott Duncan (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Blackburn 1 Birmingham 1

Blackpool (10) v Brighton (9)

Blackpool will be without defender Kirk Broadfoot after he was shown a straight red card late on during their Boxing Day clash with Leeds and will now face a four-match suspension. Ricardo Fuller and Isaiah Osbourne (both hamstring) are unlikely to be involved.

Brighton welcome back Kazenga LuaLua from suspension but skipper Gordon Greer remains a doubt with a calf problem and fellow defender Bruno will be assessed due to a tight adductor muscle. Tomasz Kuszczak, who is fit after a stomach muscle injury, could replace Peter Brezovan.

Last season: Brighton 6 Blackpool 1, Blackpool 1 Brighton 1

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

Top scorers: Tom Ince (Blackpool) 7; Jose Ulloa & Ashley Barnes (Brighton) 6

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

Our verdict: Blackpool 3 Brighton 2

Bournemouth (15) v Ipswich (7)

Harry Arter picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in the 3-0 victory over Yeovil on Boxing Day and serves a one-match suspension with Shaun MacDonald likely to replace him. Cherries centre-back Steve Cook has missed the last two games with a minor hamstring tear and is set to miss out once again, while back-up goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan is struggling with a thumb injury.

Mick McCarthy will hope to keep faith with a winning formula after naming an unchanged XI for the fourth successive match on Boxing Day. On-loan Manchester United midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe makes the final appearance of his current loan spell but an extension until the end of the season appears on the cards.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth) 9; David McGoldrick (Ipswich) 11

Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands)

Our verdict: Bournemouth 2 Ipswich 0

Charlton (19) v Sheffield Wednesday (22)

Charlton can welcome back skipper Johnnie Jackson after he completed his suspension but the midfielder may have his work cut out to get back into the starting line-up after the 3-2 victory over Brighton. Boss Chris Powell has no new injury concerns following that match but is still without defender Leon Cort, who has a knee problem.

Owls pair Giles Coke and Connor Wickham (both hamstring) will have late fitness tests ahead of the game at The Valley but caretaker-boss Stuart Gray, who has no new injury or suspension problems, was boosted by defender Joe Mattock's return to the bench at Blackburn after a thigh strain. Winger Michail Antonio (knee) and defender Lewis Buxton (hamstring) remain sidelined.

Last season: Charlton 1 Sheff Wed 2, Sheff Wed 2 Charlton 0

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

Top scorers: Simon Church & Yann Kermorgant (Charlton) 5; Connor Wickham (Sheff Wed) 7

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)

Our verdict: Charlton 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Doncaster (21) v Millwall (20)

Doncaster boss Paul Dickov hopes to have strikers Chris Brown (ankle) and Billy Paynter (Achilles) and midfielder James Coppinger (heel) back to face the Lions. Defenders Jamie McCombe (back), Rob Jones (neck) and James Husband (shoulder) and midfielder Paul Keegan (hamstring) have been out for some time and are likely to remain unavailable for Sunday.

Managerless Millwall will be without Dan Shittu as he serves a one-match ban after being sent off in the early stages of the 4-0 Boxing Day defeat at Watford which cost boss Steve Lomas his job. Paul Robinson is likely to come in while midfielders Richard Chaplow (groin) and Nicky Bailey (knee) are in contention after spells out along with winger Lee Martin (hamstring).

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Theo Robinson (Doncaster) 4; Steve Morison & Martyn Woolford (Millwall) 4

Referee: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire)

Our verdict: Doncaster 0 Millwall 0

Huddersfield (14) v Yeovil (23)

Terriers leading goalscorer James Vaughan is hoping to recover from a knee knock while defender Antony Gerrard (groin) is another injury concern for boss Mark Robins. Duane Holmes is pushing for a starting berth after two impressive substitute appearances, but skipper Peter Clarke (knee) remains a long-term absentee.

Gary Johnson could ring the changes with right-back Luke Ayling set to return after he sat out the heavy Boxing Day defeat at Bournemouth through suspension, with Sam Foley and James Hayter among Johnson's other options. Byron Webster is unlikely to return to the side as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury he sustained in Yeovil's recent loss to Blackburn.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: James Vaughan (Huddersfield) 12; Edward Upson (Yeovil) 5

Referee: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire)

Our verdict: Huddersfield 0 Yeovil 1

Leicester (1) v Bolton (17)

Leicester have no new problems as they prepare to host the Trotters but strikers Chris Wood (hamstring) and Tom Hopper (shin) and defender Sean St. Ledger (groin) have been absent recently and they are likely to continue on the sidelines. Neil Danns is back with the Foxes following the end of his loan spell with Sunday's opponents and could be an option.

That situation mean that Danns is no longer an option for Dougie Freedman along with Kevin McNaughton who has returned to Cardiff. Matt Mills, Chu-Young Lee, Medo and Andre Moritz all may be considered as replacements but Stuart Holden, Joe Riley and Adam Bogdan (all knee) are unavailable while full-back Marc Tierney remains doubtful as he struggles to overcome a foot injury.

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

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

Top scorers: David Nugent (Leicester) 12; Jermaine Beckford (Bolton) 6

Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)

Our verdict: Leicester 2 Bolton 1

Middlesbrough (16) v Reading (8)

Boro full-back Fraser Richardson missed Thursday's game against Burnley with an ankle problem, while striker Muzzy Carayol sat out with a slight groin strain and both men are being assessed. However, goalkeeper Jason Steele (ankle) and striker Kei Kamara (medial ligaments) miss out, while full-back Stuart Parnaby, who has a knee problem, is currently on compassionate leave.

Reading will check on midfielder Jordan Obita and winger Garath McCleary after neither featured against Leicester with a sickness bug. Hal Robson-Kanu (knee) and Chris Baird (ankle) are also a doubts while Wayne Bridge, Sean Morrison, Jem Karacan (cruciate), Mikele Leigertwood (ankle) and Jason Roberts (hip) are still missing.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) 8; Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 7

Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Middlesbrough 1 Reading 2

Nottingham Forest (5) v Leeds (6)

Forest will check on Simon Cox after the striker missed the home victory over QPR on Boxing Day through illness. Greg Halford had to start that game up front and Billy Davies is again short of options with with Darius Henderson starting a three-match suspension, Dexter Blackstock (knee) injured and Marcus Tudgay and Ishmael Miller out on loan.

Leeds midfielder Luke Murphy returns to contention after sitting out the Boxing Day draw at Blackpool due to a one-game ban. Central defender Marius Zaliukas overcame an ankle injury in time to play the full 90 minutes at Blackpool, while recent signing Gboly Ariyibi was named among the substitutes and could make his first appearance for the club.

Last season: Nottm Forest 4 Leeds 2, Leeds 2 Nottm Forest 1

Last five league matches: Nottm Forest D W D D W; Leeds W D W D D

Top scorers: Andy Reid (Nottm Forest) 7; Ross McCormack (Leeds) 17

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

Our verdict: Nottingham Forest 2 Leeds 1

Watford (12) v QPR (3)

Giuseppe Sannino must decide whether to keep faith with a winning line-up after the Hornets ended their long wait for victory when they clinched all three points at the 11th attempt with a 4-0 demolition of Millwall on Boxing Day. With no new injury or suspension concerns expected, the Italian could stick with the same XI.

QPR look set to be without leading scorer Charlie Austin for the trip to Vicarage Road as he has a hamstring problem. Harry Redknapp can welcome back Joey Barton from suspension but fellow midfielder Alejandro Faurlin is a long-term absentee with a cruciate injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Troy Deeney (Watford) 11; Charlie Austin (QPR) 11

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Watford 1 QPR 1

Wigan (13) v Burnley (2)

Wigan will be without Jean Beausejour at Turf Moor after the midfielder picked up his fifth yellow card of the season during Boxing Day's clash with Birmingham. Ben Watson returns from a one-game ban of his own while Thomas Rogne was forced off during the goalless draw with Lee Clark's men and is likely to join the likes of Scott Carson, Emerson Boyce and Nick Powell as a concern.

Sean Dyche could opt to make changes as his side look to put an end to a run of five winless games on the road. Ross Wallace (knee) remains Dyche's only notable absentee and is not expected back until the new year.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Nick Powell (Wigan) 8; Danny Ings (Burnley) 17

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Our verdict: Wigan 1 Burnley 3

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