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Championship preview

With the transfer window now closed, Championship teams will refocus their respective efforts on promotion and avoiding relegation.

Last Updated: 01/02/13 at 16:45

Malky Mackay: The Cardiff boss takes his club to old rivals Leeds United

Malky Mackay: The Cardiff boss takes his club to old rivals Leeds United

Cardiff aim to reopen double-point lead at top of the table

With the transfer window now closed, Championship teams will refocus their respective efforts on earning promotion and avoiding relegation at both ends of the table.

At the summit, Cardiff City will want to reopen a 10-point lead and Hull City, Watford, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough could strengthen their positions in the play-offs.

Peterborough, Bristol City and Barnsley will remain in the bottom three regardless of what happens on Saturday and they will know they are running out of matches.

Elsewhere, Alex McLeish is likely to receive a hostile reception when returning to Birmingham City while managerless Huddersfield continue life after Simon Grayson.

Leicester City are still clinging to Cardiff's coattails after beating Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday night but Malky Mackay's table-toppers will be determined to return to a double-figure points advantage when they visit old rivals Leeds United.

Hull City have yet to give up hopes of automatic promotion and Steve Bruce's third-placed club could move level on points with Leicester if they win at out-of-form Millwall.

Watford also hold ambitions of returning to the top flight but Tuesday's shock defeat by Bristol City was a setback and Gianfranco Zola's team need to win against Bolton Wanderers at Vicarage Road.

Crystal Palace have been struggling for form since the beginning of December, taking just 11 points from 10 games, but remain in the play-off places ahead of their London derby against Charlton Athletic at Selhurst Park.

Sixth-placed Middlesbrough are also out of form having lost three successive matches and Tony Mowbray will be demanding a win against relegation-threatened Ipswich Town.

Like Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday are just four points clear of the bottom three and would prefer to ease any nerves by defeating play-off-chasing Brighton & Hove Albion.

Bottom-of-the-table Peterborough earned a surprise point against Hull in their last outing and they will want to build on that but Burnley will visit London Road with play-off ambitions.

Nottingham Forest suffered a frustrating transfer window and boss Alex McLeish has had to play down rumours of a bust-up with the club's owners ahead of a Midlands derby at former club Birmingham, where he is not fondly remembered after leaving for Aston Villa.

Huddersfield overcame the sacking of ex-boss Simon Grayson to defeat Palace in their last outing and could have some self-belief ahead of a trip to Derby County.

Barnsley remain in the relegation zone but if they win against Blackpool, they would be just six points behind the 14th-placed Bloomfield Road club in a typically tight division.

Finally, Barnsley's fellow relegation zone occupants, Bristol City, will want to make it three successive wins when they travel to Blackburn Rovers.

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I

put Ince in my fantasy football team, so it's no surprise at all really. I do that to players. Also responsible for De Jong and Upson being injured. Think I'll transfer in Di Maria just to ruin United....

megabrow (cufc)
F365's Top Ten Surprise Strugglers

L

ovren? £20m always seemed a touch on the expensive side, but I wasn't expecting him to be quite such a waste of money

stevenjameshyde
F365's Top Ten Surprise Strugglers

H

alf of our players have the physical presence of a 14 year old girl. I don't know why people are always shocked that they're injured.

TheWhiz
Wenger baffled by injuries

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