Forest fancied to stay top

  • Last Updated: August 29 2014, 13:03 BST

Nottingham Forest and Norwich are backed for wins in our preview package for the weekend's Sky Bet Championship action.

Nottingham Forest: Can stay top of the Sky Bet Championship
Nottingham Forest: Can stay top of the Sky Bet Championship

The best bets from Nick Hext are here for the weekend's action in the Sky Bet Championship. Match-by-match score verdicts and team news are now here too.

Back Nottingham Forest to beat Sheffield Wednesday

The Sky Bet Championship action starts on Saturday lunchtime in front of the Sky Sports cameras when leaders Nottingham Forest make the short journey north to Sheffield Wednesday. Forest have three wins and a draw from their opening four league games, while they made it to the third round of the Capital One Cup with victory in Yorkshire against Huddersfield. Wednesday are another side going well in the early stages of the campaign and have yet to lose this season. Stuart Gray has got the Owls in good shape but they will struggle to cope with rampant Forest.

Back Norwich to beat Bournemouth

Norwich have bounced back in impressive fashion from losing at Wolves on the opening weekend of the season. The Canaries have won four games on the spin after that defeat at Molineux and will still be smiling about last Saturday's victory over local rivals Ipswich. Striker Lewis Grabban is proving to be an inspired signing and he comes up against his former club Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon. The Cherries will flirt with the play-offs but Norwich are the better side and look a great price at odds-against to make it five wins from five matches.

Team news & score verdicts (league position in brackets)

Brighton (13) v Charlton (5)

Sam Baldock could be handed his Brighton debut after joining on a four-year contract from Bristol City. Kazenga LuaLua may miss out with an ankle injury while Dale Stephens (ankle) is still sidelined.

Charlton will check on goalkeeper Stephen Henderson, who has missed the last three matches with a hamstring injury. Right-back Chris Solly is set to return having sat out the midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Derby to rest his troublesome knee.

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jake Forster-Caskey, Joao Teixeira and Craig Mackail-Smith (Brighton) 2; Igor Vetokele (Charlton) 3

Referee: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire)

Our verdict: Brighton 1 Charlton 0

Derby (7) v Ipswich (17)

Jake Buxton, Jamie Ward and John Eustace were all rested for Derby's cup win over Charlton while standout performances from Zak Whitbread, Ivan Calero, and Ryan Shotton will have given Rams boss Steve McClaren food for thought.

Jonathan Parr, Kevin Bru and Alex Henshall could all be pushing for a place for Ipswich, with just 16 senior players available. Conor Sammon is ineligible to face his parent club while Cameron Stewart (jaw) and Stephen Hunt (calf) still sidelined.

Last season: Ipswich 2 Derby 1, Derby 4 Ipswich 4

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris Martin and Jamie Ward (Derby) 3; Christophe Berra (Ipswich) 2

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Derby 3 Ipswich 1

Fulham (24) v Cardiff (8)

Fulham have doubts over Scott Parker (ankle) and Mark Fotheringham (hip). Boss Felix Magath rotated his squad for the midweek Capital One Cup win at Brentford but might be tempted to keep changes to a minimum this time after the Cottagers won their first game of the season.

Cardiff striker Federico Macheda is set to make his league debut after his two-goal show in midweek away to Port Vale. Aron Gunnarsson (ankle) is battling to be fit so summer signing Kagisho Dikgacoi could make his first league start in the Icelandic midfielder's absence.

Last season: Fulham 1 Cardiff 2, Cardiff 3 Fulham 1

Top scorers (all competitions): Ross McCormack, Tim Hoogland and Scott Parker (Fulham) 1; Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff) 3

Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire)

Our verdict: Fulham 2 Cardiff 1

Leeds (21) v Bolton (22)

Leeds caretaker boss Neil Redfearn could hand Casper Sloth his debut as the club start life without sacked head coach Dave Hockaday. Luke Murphy and Sam Byram are both suspended while Rodolph Austin (hamstring), Gaetano Berardi (concussion), Souleymane Doukara, Aidy White (both ankle) and Steve Morison are out.

Dougie Freedman will likely ring the changes again for Bolton following their midweek Capital One Cup win against Crewe, but former Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford will hope for a starting berth. Mark Davies is still waiting to get the all-clear to return from a toe injury while Dean Moxey (foot) could also come back into the fray.

Last season: Leeds 1 Bolton 5, Bolton 0 Leeds 1

Top scorers (all competitions): Souleymane Doukara (Leeds) 2; Jermaine Beckford, Neil Danns and Craig Davies (Bolton) 2

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)

Our verdict: Leeds 0 Bolton 1

Middlesbrough (12) v Reading (19)

Boro boss Aitor Karanka made six changes for the Capital One Cup victory over Preston but Tomas Mejias, George Friend, Kenneth Omeruo, Grant Leadbitter, Adam Reach and Kike should return after being left out.

Oliver Norwood returns to a Reading squad decimated by injuries after being cup-tied for the midweek Capital One Cup win at Scunthorpe. But the Royals will again be without Jordan Obita, Hal Robson-Kanu, Stephen Kelly, Danny Williams, Jem Karacan (all knee), Garath McCleary (back), Pavel Pogrebnyak and Danny Guthrie (both calf).

Last season: Reading 2 Middlesbrough 0, Middlesbrough 3 Reading 0

Top scorers (all competitions): Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) 4; Jake Taylor (Reading) 2

Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Middlesbrough 1 Reading 0

Millwall (9) v Blackpool (23)

Watford loanee Mathias Ranegie could make his Millwall debut against Blackpool. Boss Ian Holloway made nine changes for the midweek Capital One Cup defeat by Southampton so the likes of Alan Dunne and Ricardo Fuller are in line to return but Nicky Bailey (calf) and Ed Upson (thigh) are set to miss out again.

Midfielder Andrea Orlandi could be back in Blackpool's squad after declaring himself fit following injury. Steven Davies may also return to the fold following a knee injury, but the same ailment keeps defender Gary MacKenzie, midfielder Jacob Mellis and striker Billy Grant out of action.

Last season: Blackpool 1 Millwall 0, Millwall 3 Blackpool 1

Top scorers (all competitions): Mark Beevers, Magaye Gueye, Martyn Woolford, Matthew Briggs and Shaun Williams (Millwall) 1; Tomasz Cywka and Nathan Delfouneso (Blackpool) 1

Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire)

Our verdict: Millwall 3 Blackpool 0

Norwich (3) v Bournemouth (11)

Norwich will be without Martin Olsson due to a family bereavement. Javier Garrido (hamstring) and Gary O'Neil (leg) face fitness tests while Canaries boss Neil Adams has issued a positive update on recovering stars Gary Hooper (calf) and Jonny Howson (knee), stating on the club website: "They are on their feet and doing light running and jogging."

Bournemouth will be without defender Elliott Ward after he went under the knife to correct a knee problem. Fellow defender Simon Francis (hamstring) is set to return to training having missed the last three games but Shaun MacDonald is ruled out with a thigh injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Top scorers (all competitions): Lewis Grabban (Norwich) 4; Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) 4

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)

Our verdict: Norwich 3 Bournemouth 1

Rotherham (14) v Brentford (15)

Rotherham will welcome Richie Smallwood and Anthony Wordsworth back into the squad, but Paul Taylor is a doubt with a virus. All three were cup-tied for the Capital One Cup defeat at Swansea in midweek and, while Smallwood and Wordsworth should return to Steve Evans' starting XI, Taylor's condition will be monitored.

Tony Craig returns to the Brentford squad after missing their midweek cup defeat against derby rivals Fulham through suspension. Scott Hogan made his Bees debut as a sub against the Cottagers, having recovered from an ankle injury, so he should be involved again.

Last season: Brentford 0 Rotherham 1, Rotherham 3 Brentford 0.

Top scorers (all competitions): Ben Pringle, Ryan Hall and Matt Derbyshire (Rotherham) 1; Stuart Dallas (Brentford) 3

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)

Our verdict: Rotherham 2 Brentford 1

Sheffield Wednesday (6) v Nottingham Forest (1)

Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Sam Hutchinson (back) faces another fitness test. Fellow midfielder Kieran Lee will play no part as he is still struggling with a groin injury, but new signing Hallam Hope could make his debut.

Forest's Henri Lansbury and Jamaal Lascelles made their return from knee injuries during midweek and could feature. David Vaughan (hamstring) and Kelvin Wilson (calf) both played 90 minutes for Forest's development squad this week as they continued to step up their recovery from injury.

Last season: Nottm Forest 3 Sheff Wed 3, Sheff Wed 0 Nottm Forest 1

Top scorers (all competitions): Atdhe Nuhiu (Sheff Wed) 4; Michail Antonio and Britt Assombalonga (Nottm Forest) 4

Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Nottingham Forest 3

Watford (2) v Huddersfield (20)

Joel Ekstrand returns to the Watford squad after completing a three-match ban following his red card against Norwich a fortnight ago. Fellow centre-back Craig Cathcart is back in training after a knee injury but is unlikely to feature just yet.

Huddersfield caretaker boss Mark Lillis could be short of a specialist right-back as both skipper Lee Peltier and Tommy Smith are struggling with groin injuries. However, Nahki Wells (ankle) and Jonathan Hogg (calf) are hopeful of returns.

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Lloyd Dyer and Fernando Forestieri (Watford) 3; Nahki Wells (Huddersfield) 4

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Watford 3 Huddersfield 0

Wigan (18) v Birmingham (16)

James McArthur's uncertain future may cause him to miss out for Wigan. Winger Shaun Maloney could return after a bout of illness but Ben Watson (broken leg), James McClean (ankle) and Chris McCann (knee) are all still sidelined.

Neal Eardley (groin) is a doubt for Birmingham after limping out of Wednesday's Capital One Cup exit to Sunderland. Matt Green (knee) is still recovering while Gavin Gunning is a long-term absentee after a knee operation last week.

Last season: Birmingham 0 Wigan 1, Wigan 0 Birmingham 0

Top scorers (all competitions): Callum McManaman (Wigan) 2; Paul Caddis and Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham) 2

Referee: David Webb (County Durham)

Our verdict: Wigan 1 Birmingham 1

Wolves (4) v Blackburn (10)

Wolves could give George Saville a debut after he joined from Chelsea. Tommy Rowe could make his first appearance in the squad after recovering from a broken toe he suffered during pre-season but winger Razak Boukari (hamstring) is out for a further three months.

Blackburn may include defender Matt Kilgallon (back) in their squad as they bid to record a first clean sheet of the campaign. Rovers are still without full-back Tommy Spurr (groin) and summer signing Chris Brown (knee) though.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Top scorers (all competitions): Nouha Dicko, Bakary Sako, Dave Edwards and Sam Ricketts (Wolves) 1; Rudy Gestede (Blackburn) 3

Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire)

Our verdict: Wolves 1 Blackburn 1