Easter Saturday briefings

  • Last Updated: April 19 2014, 15:13 BST

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

Lee Novak (l): Injury blow for relegation-threatened Birmingham
Lee Novak (l): Injury blow for relegation-threatened Birmingham

All times are BST


Leicester v QPR (1215)

Matty James is a major doubt for Leicester after missing Monday's 1-1 draw with Reading because of a knee injury. Striker Jamie Vardy returned to the starting line-up at the Madejski Stadium following a three-game absence with a groin injury. Defeat for second-placed Burnley at rivals Blackpool on Friday evening coupled with a victory for Leicester would see Pearson's men crowned champions.

Joey Barton returns to the QPR squad after missing the last four games with a thigh problem. Clint Hill, Aaron Hughes, Andy Johnson and Shaun Wright-Phillips should all also be available along with Wolves striker Kevin Doyle, who has resumed his loan spell at Loftus Road after recovering from a knee injury. But Jermaine Jenas is out with a hamstring problem while Ale Faurlin (knee) and Matty Phillips (ankle) are long-term absentees.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): David Nugent (Leicester) 20; Charlie Austin (QPR) 15

Referee: Scott Duncan (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Leicester 0 QPR 3

Barnsley v Leeds (1500)

Barnsley pair Kelvin Etuhu (ankle) and Jack Hunt (hamstring) are both doubtful for the Yorkshire derby. Striker Marcus Pedersen (hamstring) and winger Jim O'Brien (knee) are still struggling for full fitness, but defender Martin Cranie (hamstring) came through unscathed after returning to the side in the midweek win at Charlton.

Leeds midfielder Rudy Austin could return after missing the last three games with an ankle problem, but defender Sam Byram, sidelined for the last two matches, is not expected to recover from a hamstring injury. Winger Jimmy Kebe, who has played no part for Leeds since the 5-1 defeat at Bolton in early March, hopes to return to contention for the last two matches, but is still nursing a hamstring injury and will also miss Monday's home game against Nottingham Forest.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris O'Grady (Barnsley) 13; Ross McCormack (Leeds) 28

Referee: David Webb (County Durham)

Our verdict: Barnsley 2 Leeds 1

Middlesbrough v Millwall (1500)

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka faces more defensive problems. Centre-back Daniel Ayala is suspended after being sent off during the 1-0 win at Burnley last weekend and joins

Ben Gibson on the sidelines as he completes a two-match ban. In addition, Seb Hines (thigh), Rhys Williams (Achilles) and Stuart Parnaby (knee) are all still out. However, there is better news of full-back George Friend, who missed the Burnley game with a muscle injury but could return to face the Lions.

Millwall will again be without Ed Upson, who completes a two-match ban for collecting 10 yellow cards, but he has also picked up a knee injury in training which will rule him out for the rest of the season. However, fellow midfielder Richard Chaplow could be added to the squad after recovering from an Achilles injury which has kept him out for a month. Defender Danny Shittu (Achilles) is still sidelined but striker Jermaine Easter has made a timely return to fitness after a thigh injury and should be involved.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) 12; Shaun Williams (Millwall) 11

Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Middlesbrough 1 Millwall 1

Nottingham Forest v Birmingham (1500)

Danny Collins and Jamie Paterson come back into the reckoning for Nottingham Forest following suspension and illness, respectively. David Vaughan was in the squad for the first time in two months at QPR and was an unused substitute, but the on-loan Sunderland midfielder this week topped up his fitness with a 45-minute run out for the under-21 team and he will hope to be involved on Saturday.

Birmingham will be without top scorer Lee Novak, who injured his knee in the 3-1 defeat to Middlesbrough last time out and is set to miss the rest of the season. Nikola Zigic is Novak's likely replacement, while Tom Adeyemi and Jordon Ibe could also be handed recalls. Lee Clark's side are only three points above the drop zone, although they do have a game in hand on their rivals.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jamie Paterson (Nottm Forest) 12; Federico Macheda (Birmingham) 12

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Our verdict: Nottingham Forest 1 Birmingham 1

Watford v Ipswich (1500)

Watford centre-back Marco Cassetti will miss out once more as he completes his two-match suspension for picking up 10 yellow cards this term. He remains sidelined alongside Park Chu-Young (toe). The game could come too soon for Cristian Battocchio and Lloyd Doyley as they battle back from knee and ankle injuries respectively, while Ikechi Anya will be assessed on a knock picked up at Millwall. Fernando Forestieri replaced Anya on his return from a toe problem and he could start, with Fitz Hall also in contention having overcome an Achilles injury.

Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy has a few injury concerns. Tommy Smith (calf), Paul Anderson and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (both hamstring) all have niggles and have been rated as doubtful. David McGoldrick (knee) was expected to be fit for the play-offs - should Town make them - but he has suffered a setback and will now definitely miss the rest of the season. McCarthy will, however, be boosted by the return of Aaron Cresswell after he missed last weekend's victory over Doncaster with a groin problem, while Jack Marriott is available after he was recalled from his loan spell at Woking.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Troy Deeney (Watford) 22; David McGoldrick (Ipswich) 16

Referee: Gary Sutton (Lincolnshire)

Our verdict: Watford 1 Ipswich 3

League 2

Burton v Hartlepool

An injury to Rob Lainton (finger) means Dean Lyness will return in goal for Burton while Freddy Hall, recently signed on a short-term contract, will probably provide cover on the bench. Callum McFadzean is a doubt but Damien McCrory will certainly miss out, having been ruled out for around four months with a knee problem.

Hartlepool midfielder Andy Monkhouse is hoping to return having been sidelined for five matches with a hamstring injury. Christian Burgess (ankle) is not expected to feature again this season and has returned to parent club Middlesbrough.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Burton Albion L W D W L; Hartlepool L L L L L Top scorers: Billy Kee (Burton Albion) 13; Luke James (Hartlepool) 16

Referee: Michael Bull (Essex).

Our verdict: Burton 2 Hartlepool 2

Portsmouth v Bristol Rovers

Portsmouth's Ben Chorley returns from a four-match ban after he was sent off for the second time this season against York last month. Wes Fogden (knee) and Romain Padovani (calf) could return but Andy Barcham (thigh), Simon Ferry (back) and Ryan Bird (groin) are out.

Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke hopes Michael Smith and Danny Woodards will shake off minor injuries while striker Chris Beardsley (knee) is far less likely to feature. Fabian Broghammer could feature for the first time this season after recovering from a serious knee injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Portsmouth L L W W W; Bristol Rovers L W L D L Top scorers: Ryan Bird (Portsmouth) 11; John-Joe O'Toole (Bristol Rovers) 15

Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire).

Our verdict: Portsmouth 3 Bristol Rovers 1