Sky Bet Championship briefing

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

Last Updated: 14/03/14 at 14:53 Post Comment

Paul Konchesky: Returns for Leicester

Paul Konchesky: Returns for Leicester

Saturday, March 15

All matches start at 1500 GMT

Bolton v Brighton

Matt Mills is back in training following a knee problem but Bolton's trip to Yeovil next Saturday looks a more likely time for the defender to come back. Striker Joe Mason has an ear infection but Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman expects him to feature. Top scorer Jermaine Beckford is also fit, but Freedman has warned his conditioning must improve ahead of the final few weeks of the campaign following a hamstring problem. Stuart Holden may not play again until 2015 following fresh knee surgery while fellow midfielder Darren Pratley (shoulder) is out for the season.

Brighton captain Gordon Greer returns from suspension and should return at centre-half in place of Lewis Dunk. Keith Andrews cannot play as he is on loan from Bolton while fellow midfielders Andrea Orlandi (thigh) and Andrew Crofts (knee) are still missing.

Last season: Bolton 1 Brighton 0, Brighton 1 Bolton 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jermaine Beckford (Bolton) 8; Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton) 12

Referee: Scott Duncan (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Bolton 2 Brighton 1

Bournemouth v Middlesbrough

Bournemouth will assess Harry Arter (calf) and Yann Kermorgant (heel), with the latter having missed both the Cherries' last two matches.

Middlesbrough forward Lee Tomlin limped off with an ankle injury before half-time in Tuesday's draw with Nottingham Forest and left the Riverside Stadium with the joint heavily strapped. Central defender Jonathan Woodgate (calf) could return after missing the last two games but goalkeeper Tomas Mejias will be missing for several weeks with a dislocated finger.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth) 15; Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) 9

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)

Our verdict: Bournemouth 2 Middlesbrough 1

Burnley v Leeds

Danny Ings gave Burnley a major scare when he came off with an ankle injury on Wednesday at Birmingham but boss Sean Dyche has not ruled the 25-goal striker out for this match. Should Ings miss out, it could mean a first ever Burnley start for January signing Ashley Barnes, whose 10 appearances have all come from the bench.

Leeds winger Jimmy Kebe is not expected to recover from illness in time. Brian McDermott has no other injury or suspension problems, but places are again up for grabs as United chase their first league win in six matches.

Last season: Leeds 1 Burnley 0, Burnley 1 Leeds 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Danny Ings (Burnley) 25; Ross McCormack (Leeds) 24

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)

Our verdict: Burnley 3 Leeds 0

Huddersfield v Blackburn

Huddersfield striker James Vaughan is hoping to return to action having been sidelined since the end of January due to a calf injury. Defender Anthony Gerrard remains doubtful due to a fractured toe that kept him out of the goalless midweek draw at Charlton. Peter Clarke will continue if Gerrard misses out, while midfielder Jonathan Hogg hopes to retain his place after returning at Charlton following a calf injury.

Blackburn centre-back Grant Hanley came off in the second half of the 1-0 loss to Bournemouth, Rovers' third straight defeat, with manager Gary Bowyer later disclosing the club feared he had sustained a hamstring tear. Bowyer will also check on Hanley's central-defensive partner Matt Kilgallon (groin), central midfielder Tom Cairney (ankle) and winger Josh King (hamstring) on Thursday and Friday before determining their availability.

Last season: Blackburn 1 Huddersfield 0, Huddersfield 2 Blackburn 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): James Vaughan (Huddersfield) 12; Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn) 17

Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)

Our verdict: Huddersfield 0 Blackburn 1

Ipswich v Wigan

Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy could name an unchanged side. Frank Nouble may miss out with the hamstring problem which ruled him out of Tuesday's game, while Anthony Wordsworth (back) and David McGoldrick (knee) will definitely watch from the sidelines.

Wigan's top scorer Nick Powell could be considered for his first start since January 28 after making his comeback from the bench in midweek following a hamstring problem. Scotland international winger Shaun Maloney (hip) and club captain Gary Caldwell (Achilles) played 45 minutes for Wigan's development squad in midweek although they are both on the way back from lengthy absences.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): David McGoldrick (Ipswich) 16; Nick Powell (Wigan) 10

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)

Our verdict: Ipswich 1 Wigan 2

Leicester v Blackpool

Paul Konchesky comes back into the reckoning for Leicester when the Sky Bet Championship leaders host free-falling Blackpool at the King Power Stadium.

Konchesky has missed the last three matches through suspension but he may struggle to depose Jeff Schlupp at left-back, with the youngster helping the Foxes keep three straight clean sheets in three successive 3-0 wins in the former England international's absence.

Lloyd Dyer could also be back in contention after an Achilles problem saw him sit out the victories against Barnsley and Charlton. Riyad Mahrez has performed well in his absence and the Frenchman could retain his place if Dyer suffers a reaction in training this week.

Sean St Ledger (groin) and young striker Tom Hopper (shin) remain on the sidelines.

Jack Robinson and Andy Keogh will be back in Blackpool's squad. Full-back Robinson returns having served a three-match suspension for his third red card of the season while fellow loanee Keogh is available again after being ineligible to face parent club Millwall in midweek.

Last season: Blackpool 0 Leicester 0, Leicester 1 Blackpool 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): David Nugent (Leicester) 19; Ricardo Fuller (Blackpool) 6

Referee: Nigel Miller (Durham)

Our verdict: Leicester 2 Blackpool 1Millwall v Charlton

Millwall striker DJ Campbell faces a couple of weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring strain while centre-back Danny Shittu could be set for a long spell out due to an Achilles injury. Campbell's strike partner Steve Morison faces a fitness test after being forced off with a neck injury during Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at Blackpool. Jermaine Easter (thigh) and Nicky Bailey (back) will miss out again but full-back Scott Malone could return after a foot injury.

New Charlton boss Jose Riga has no new injury worries. Riga drafted in January signings Astrit Ajdarevic and Reza Ghoochannejhad against Huddersfield in midweek, as well as Dorian Dervite and Marvin Sordell, and all performed well. Leon Cort is on the mend after a long-term knee injury but will not be risked just yet while fellow defender Chris Solly will step up training next week following his knee problems.

Last season: Charlton 0 Millwall 2, Millwall 0 Charlton 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Martyn Woolford (Millwall) 7; Simon Church (Charlton) 7

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Our verdict: Millwall 0 Charlton 0

Nottingham Forest v Doncaster

Andy Reid could return to the Forest starting line-up after playing the final 20 minutes of Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough following a hernia operation. Striker Rafik Djebbour's fitness will continue to be monitored after he missed out in midweek though injury. Defenders Eric Lichaj (hernia), Kelvin Wilson (back) and Jack Hobbs (ankle) and midfielders Henri Lansbury (back) and David Vaughan (knee) remain unavailable to Reds boss Billy Davies, who will serve the third game of his five-match touchline ban.

Doncaster are optimistic that Abdoulaye Meite will recover from the hamstring problem which forced him to miss the second half against Watford on Tuesday night. Rovers manager Paul Dickov is looking for a loan centre-back following news that Gabriel Tamas (fractured cheekbone) will be out for four to six weeks, while Bongani Khumalo is set to miss the remainder of the season after rupturing a kneecap.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Andy Reid & Jamie Paterson (Nottm Forest) 10; Chris Brown (Doncaster) 7

Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)

Our verdict: Nottingham Forest 1 Doncaster 0

QPR v Yeovil

QPR's top scorer Charlie Austin (shoulder) will be out for a few more weeks, Wolves loanee Kevin Doyle (knee) and Andy Johnson (ankle) are still sidelined and Bobby Zamora has struggled with injury all season, although he did play for the reserves in midweek. Benoit Assou-Ekotto will be assessed after he limped off during Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat at Brighton.

Yeovil look set to be without winger Joel Grant, who has been suffering with a back spasm after being caught in last weekend's 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday. Midfielder Joe Ralls will serve the last game of his three-match suspension while Everton loanee John Lundstram has returned to his parent club.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Charlie Austin (QPR) 15; Ishmael Miller (Yeovil) 7

Referee: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire)

Our verdict: QPR 1 Yeovil 1

Reading v Derby

Reading midfielder Danny Williams (knee) missed Tuesday's 4-2 win over Leeds with a knee problem and striker Pavel Pogrebnyak (ankle) also sat out. Winger Garath McCleary, who scored the Royals' opening goal at Elland Road, had to come off before half-time with a hamstring problem.

Will Hughes missed Derby's goalless draw with Bolton on Tuesday with an ankle knock but should be fit to face the Royals. Johnny Russell, Conor Sammon and Patrick Bamford are also pushing for recalls, while on-loan West Brom midfielder George Thorne and recent signing Lee Naylor are also options for Rams manager Steve McClaren.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 13; Chris Martin (Derby) 18

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Our verdict: Reading 1 Derby 2

Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham

Sheffield Wednesday winger Jacques Maghoma will play no part after he damaged knee ligaments in the midweek defeat at Wigan. Maghoma joins an extensive injury list at Hillsborough, while the loan spells of Sam Hutchinson, Leon Best, Gary Gardner and Adedeji Oshilaja all expired after the game. Boss Stuart Gray is hoping to extend some of the deals in time for their inclusion and was boosted by the return of defender Lewis Buxton and midfielder David Prutton.

Birmingham boss Lee Clark has no fresh injury worries. On-loan Manchester City midfielder Albert Rusnak returned to the bench after a month on the sidelines with a groin injury and he is an option for Clark should he wish to freshen his side up. Callum Reilly (knee) is back in training but will miss out along with Mitch Hancox and Brian Howard (both ankle) as the 19th-placed Blues aim to pull clear of the bottom three.

Last season: Birmingham 0 Sheff Wed 0, Sheff Wed 3 Birmingham 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Chris Maguire (Sheff Wed) 6; Lee Novak (Birmingham) 9

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)

Our verdict: Sheffield Wednesday 2 Birmingham 0

Watford v Barnsley

Watford will be without the suspended Mathias Ranegie after he was sent off early on in Tuesday's 2-1 defeat at Doncaster. He could be joined on the sidelines by fellow forward Fernando Forestieri (toe). Joel Ekstrand is back from a ban of his own, however, to hand Hornets boss Giuseppe Sannino a boost. Lewis McGugan was an unused substitute in midweek after missing nine games with a thigh injury and he could be handed a starting berth as Watford aim to keep their slim play-off hopes alive.

Barnsley will be without Jim O'Brien after the midfielder suffered a season-ending knee injury at home to Leicester in midweek. Central defenders Peter Ramage and Martin Cranie were both forced out of Tuesday night's match with hamstring injuries and are set to miss out again. Long-term absentee Bobby Hassell (calf) is still struggling and Ryan McLaughlin, (hamstring) is not ready to return following a hamstring problem.

Last season: Barnsley 1 Watford 0, Watford 4 Barnsley 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Troy Deeney (Watford) 16; Chris O'Grady (Barnsley) 11

Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)

Our verdict: Watford 1 Barnsley 2


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