Sky Bet Championship briefing

  • Last Updated: February 21 2014, 14:44 GMT

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

Paul Konchesky: Suspended for Leicester
Paul Konchesky: Suspended for Leicester

Saturday, February 22

Middlesbrough v Leeds

Defender Ben Gibson misses out against Leeds through suspension while goalkeeper Shay Given will play the final game of his three-month loan spell before returning to parent club Aston Villa. Striker Lee Tomlin could make a debut but Daniel Ayala (ankle) and Rhys Williams (Achilles) are set for lengthy lay-offs.

On-loan goalkeeper Jack Butland is in line to make his Leeds debut after joining from Stoke on Thursday while winger Cameron Stewart is available but Sam Byram is struggling with a hamstring problem, so Lee Peltier could be recalled to the starting line-up.

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

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

Top scorers: Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough) 10; Ross McCormack (Leeds) 23

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

Our verdict: Middlesbrough 1 Leeds 2

Barnsley v Millwall

Midfielder Jacob Mellis returns to contention for Barnsley following a three-match suspension while Chris O'Grady, Paddy McCourt, Jack Hunt and Ryan McLaughlin all hope to overcome minor niggles in time.

Shane Lowry comes back into the reckoning for Millwall for the first time in five matches after serving a suspension and his return, along with the signing of Federico Bessone, boosts manager Ian Holloway's defensive options. Fellow defender Mark Beevers and midfielder Nicky Bailey could miss out once more with calf and back injuries respectively.

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

Last five league matches: Barnsley D L D D L; Millwall D L L D D

Top scorers: Chris O'Grady (Barnsley) 11; Shaun Williams (Millwall) 10

Referee: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire).

Our verdict: Barnsley 1 Millwall 2

Blackpool v Birmingham

Blackpool caretaker manager Barry Ferguson has a fully-fit squad for the visit of former club Birmingham. Striker Bobby Grant (knee) is back in training along with forward Tom Barkhuizen who fractured his collarbone in January, although this game may come too soon for the duo.

Birmingham boss Lee Clark described last weekend's 2-1 home defeat to Huddersfield as Blues' worst performance of the season and the likes of Brian Howard, Olly Lee, Albert Rusnak, Peter Lovenkrands and Nikola Zigic are certain to come into his thoughts at Bloomfield Road while midfielder Jonathan Spector is in contention after a thigh injury.

Last season: Birmingham 1 Blackpool 1, Blackpool 1 Birmingham 1

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

Top scorers: David Goodwillie (Blackpool) 6; Lee Novak (Birmingham) 7

Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear).

Our verdict: Blackpool 1 Birmingham 0

Bolton v Watford

Bolton will continue to be without top scorer Jermaine Beckford (hamstring) for the visit of Watford to the Reebok Stadium so Joe Mason will come into boss Dougie Freedman's thinking having rejoined the Whites on loan from Cardiff. Fellow loanee Liam Trotter is available again having missed out against parent club Millwall while forward Andre Moritz (hamstring) could return.

Watford remain without Fernando Forestieri (hamstring) and Samba Diakite (suspension) while Fitz Hall (Achilles), Almen Abdi (foot) and Lewis McGugan (thigh) are also still absent. There is some good news for boss Giuseppe Sannino with defender Lloyd Doyley back in contention having recovered from a calf problem.

Last season: Watford 2 Bolton 1, Bolton 2 Watford 1

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

Top scorers: Jermaine Beckford (Bolton) 8; Troy Deeney (Watford) 14

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex).

Our verdict: Bolton 3 Watford 1

Brighton v Wigan

Brighton winger Will Buckley (hamstring) is doubtful but striker Leonardo Ulloa is expected to shake off the calf injury that forced him off in the second half against Hull, while midfielder Keith Andrews (hamstring) had no reaction after returning to the starting line-up against the Tigers.

Wigan will be without Ben Watson for the trip to the south coast after he suffered a double fracture in his right leg in Tuesday's 2-0 win over Barnsley. Watson joins Gary Caldwell (Achilles) and Shaun Maloney (hip) on the sidelines while Nick Powell (hamstring) is a doubt but winger Callum McManaman (ankle) will definitely return.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Jose Ulloa (Brighton) 9; Nick Powell (Wigan) 10

Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire).

Our verdict: Brighton 1 Wigan 1

Burnley v Nottingham Forest

Burnley have no fresh injury or suspension concerns as they try to make it 20 games unbeaten at home in the league against Nottingham Forest. The Clarets have named an unchanged starting XI in five successive matches, during which time they have won twice and drawn three times.

Nottingham Forest's injury problems show little sign of easing ahead of the trip to Turf Moor with only full-back Eric Lichaj (hernia) having a chance of returning to the squad. David Vaughan, Chris Cohen, Dexter Blackstock (all knee), Kelvin Wilson , Henri Lansbury (both back), Jack Hobbs (ankle) and Guy Moussi (calf) will remain on the sidelines.

Last season: Burnley 1 Nottm Forest 1, Nottm Forest 2 Burnley 0

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

Top scorers: Danny Ings (Burnley) 24; Andy Reid (Nottm Forest) 10

Referee: Andy D'Urso (Essex).

Our verdict: Burnley 1 Nottingham Forest 2

Charlton v QPR

Ben Hamer (ankle) and Rhoys Wiggins (hamstring) could return to the Charlton squad but fellow defenders Chris Solly and Leon Cort will once again miss out due to long-term knee injuries.

Ravel Morrison is set to make his QPR debut in place of Joey Barton, who begins a two-match ban after collecting his 10th yellow card of the season but Matty Phillips (ankle), Danny Simpson (back), Charlie Austin (shoulder) and Alejandro Faurlin (cruciate) all remain on the sidelines.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Piotr Parzyszek (Charlton) 15; Charlie Austin (QPR) 15

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).

Our verdict: Charlton 1 QPR 2

Derby v Bournemouth

Derby will check on Craig Bryson and Jamie Ward after both players came off with injuries during the 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in midweek. Jeff Hendrick replaced Bryson after 55 minutes at Hillsborough but on-loan West Brom midfielder George Thorne is also an option while Johnny Russell is most likely to replace Ward.

Bournemouth hope midfielder Eunan O'Kane will be fit despite him having not trained this week while right-back Adam Smith is close to full fitness having not played a league match since October.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Patrick Bamford (Derby) 22; Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth) 13

Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire).

Our verdict: Derby 4 Bournemouth 1

Huddersfield v Sheffield Wednesday

Striker James Vaughan remains a major doubt for Huddersfield due to a calf injury so Danny Ward could continue alongside Nahki Wells up front. Defender Joel Lynch is battling to overcome a knock and if he fails to make it Peter Clarke could make his first start since November following a knee injury.

Kieran Lee will be missing for Wednesday with a hamstring injury and joins Jose Semedo (fractured fibula), Reda Johnson (hip), Lewis Buxton (groin), Oguchi Onyewu (calf), Martin Taylor (knee) and Kamil Zayatte (ankle) on the sidelines while winger Jermaine Johnson sits out the last game of his four-match ban.

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

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

Top scorers: Nahki Wells (Huddersfield) 17; Chris Maguire (Sheff Wed) 8

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).

Our verdict: Huddersfield 2 Sheffield Wednesday 0

Leicester v Ipswich

Paul Konchesky will be suspended for Championship leaders Leicester but Foxes boss Nigel Pearson has options at left-back in his absence with Liam Moore fit again after a rib injury and forward Jeff Schlupp having shown in the past that he is more than capable of playing in the role.

Ipswich will be without leading scorer David McGoldrick (knee) and midfielder Luke Hyam (hamstring) but goalkeeper Dean Gerken returns to contention while midfielder Paul Green (knock) and striker Paul Taylor (tooth abscess) are both expected to be okay.

Last season: Ipswich 1 Leicester 0, Leicester 6 Ipswich 0

Last five league matches: Leicester W W W D D; Ipswich W D W D D

Top scorers: David Nugent (Leicester) 17; David McGoldrick (Ipswich) 16

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight).

Our verdict: Leicester 1 Ipswich 0

Reading v Blackburn

Reading boss Nigel Adkins could name an unchanged starting line-up for the eighth successive match after Kaspars Gorkss saw his four-game suspension overturned. The Royals this week won their appeal against centre-back Gorkss' dismissal in last Sunday's impressive 3-1 victory at promotion rivals QPR.

Corry Evans could make his first Blackburn appearance since October after being troubled by ankle ligament problems while full-back Adam Henley is fully-fit again after an Achilles problem, striker Rudy Gestede has overcome a minor knock and Luke Varney and Craig Conway will hoping to make their full debuts.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 13; Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn) 16

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).

Our verdict: Reading 3 Blackburn 0

Yeovil v Doncaster

Yeovil could hand a debut to midfielder Duane Holmes in a crunch game at the foot of the Championship but winger Joel Grant will not feature after picking up a hamstring injury in the build up to Tuesday's goalless draw with Watford.

Theo Robinson could return to the Doncaster squad after returning to training following a knee injury but Billy Sharp misses out through suspension. Midfielder Richie Wellens comes back into the reckoning after a two-match ban but winger Harry Forrester is set to miss the rest of the season after suffering a cartilage injury in training.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Ishmael Miller (Yeovil) 5, James Hayter (Yeovil) 5; Chris Brown (Doncaster) 6

Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire).

Our verdict: Yeovil 1 Doncaster 1


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