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Match Previews

Sky Bet Championship weekend preview

5 December 2014

We look ahead to the weekend action in the Sky Bet Championship.

Friday 5th December 2014

Fulham v Watford – 7.45pm – live on Sky Sports

The Cottagers (16th – 22 points): Responded to their defeat at Brentford by recording a 2-1 victory away at Brighton last weekend. It’s now just one loss from their last eight as they continue to climb the table under Kit Symons. Dan Burn and Sean Kavanagh are both available after suspension and injury respectively.

The Hornets (7th – 29 points): Have now lost four games on the bounce following a 1-0 reverse at home to Cardiff last time out. Despite their dismal run, they can move back into the Play-Off positions until at least Saturday evening with three points at Craven Cottage.

Saturday 6th December 2014

Blackburn Rovers v Sheffield Wednesday

Rovers (6th – 31 points): Rudy Gestede’s goal deep into stoppage time earned them a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough, extending their unbeaten run to nine games. Jason Steele and Tom Cairney will return to the side, but skipper Grant Hanley is a doubt after picking up an ankle injury in the stalemate at the Riverside.

The Owls (13th – 25 points): Triumphed for the first time in 10 matches last weekend thanks to a brace from their top scorer Stevie May. Midfielder Jose Semedo serves a one-match ban after picking up a fifth yellow card in the 2-1 win over Wigan, but Joe Mattock could return at left-back after recovering from injury ahead of schedule.

Head-to-head: These two sides face off for the 145th time - the most-contested clash of the weekend - yet the head-to-head record is almost too close to call. The Owls have 54 wins to Rovers’ 53, accompanied by 37 draws, two of which came from last season’s encounters.

Blackpool v Birmingham City

The Tangerines (24th – 9 points): Shared the points for the third time in four games after coming away from Rotherham with a 1-1 draw last time out. They have added Irish defender Darren O’Dea to their ranks this week as they look to double their win tally at Bloomfield Road this term.

The Blues (17th – 22 points): Gained a second win in succession, and stretched their unbeaten run under Gary Rowett to five, with a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest last Saturday. Nikola Zigic has returned to the club after obtaining a work permit, and is eligible to for this weekend’s fixture.

Singing the blues: Blackpool’s only win from their previous 10 encounters with Birmingham came when they sealed a 1-0 Play-Off semi-final success at Bloomfield Road in 2012.

Cardiff City v Rotherham United   

The Bluebirds (8th – 29 points): Grabbed the elusive victory on the road at the 10th time of asking with a 1-0 win over Watford last time out. Winger Anthony Pilkington is likely to miss the festive period with a hamstring problem, so Mats Daehli and Kim Bo-Kyung will battle it out for his midfield spot.

The Millers (21st – 19 points): Have now gone seven games without a win after letting a lead slip against Blackpool last weekend. Frazer Richardson is fit again and will return to the matchday squad, although he faces a battle to start after Scott Wootton impressed on his debut in the 1-1 draw at the New York Stadium.

New surroundings: Rotherham make their first visit to the Cardiff City Stadium this weekend, due to the pair not meeting since the 2004/05 Championship season. Cardiff took four points from the two encounters during that campaign, including a 2-0 win at their old home, Ninian Park.

Derby County v Brighton & Hove Albion

The Rams (1st – 35 points): Remain top despite having their run of three victories ended by Leeds last Saturday, slipping to a 2-0 defeat at Elland Road. Jamie Ward is back in contention after featuring for the under-21 side in midweek, while Craig Bryson could start after impressing off the bench in recent weeks.

The Seagulls (22nd – 18 points): A debut goal for Darren Bent wasn’t enough to take three points last time out, with a 2-1 reverse at home to Fulham taking them into the bottom three. Spaniard Adrian Colunga picked up two bookings in the closing stages of the defeat and now serves a one-match suspension.

Ram-raid: Brighton will look to avenge last season’s four encounters, when they were the losers on each occasion. Derby took six points from the two league fixtures, and rubbed salt in the wounds as they cruised to a 6-2 aggregate victory in the Championship Play-Off semi-finals.

Huddersfield Town v Brentford

The Terriers (19th – 21 points): Are winless in four after being beaten 1-0 by Bolton last weekend. Midfielder Sean Scannell picked up a thigh injury in the defeat, but both he and defender Joel Lynch (groin) could still be available in time for Brentford’s visit. Harry Bunn will miss out again, though.

The Bees (3rd – 34 points): Thumped Wolves 4-0 last Saturday to give them a perfect November. Five wins out of five has lifted them to third place and earned Mark Warburton the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month award. Andre Gray netted five goals in that period, earning him the Player of the Month honour.

On a high: This is the first time the sides have met in the second tier of English football since the 1952/53 season. It’s the 60th clash between the pair, with both sides triumphing on 21 occasions, alongside 17 draws.

Ipswich Town v Leeds United

The Tractor Boys (2nd – 34 points): Are unbeaten in six and moved into the automatic promotion places after their 1-0 triumph at Charlton last Saturday. Noel Hunt’s debut strike handed them the three points but he is ineligible for this weekend’s clash against his parent club.

The Whites (15th – 23 points): Produced one of the displays of the weekend by toppling league leaders Derby, with a 2-0 triumph at Elland Road. They have two wins from their last three games, and are looking for consecutive victories for the first time since mid-September.

Millwall v Middlesbrough

The Lions (20th – 20 points): Shared four goals with Bournemouth last Saturday to earn a second successive draw, although they are now without a win in five matches. Lee Martin should be fit despite limping off against the Cherries, and Andy Wilkinson returns after a three-match ban.

Boro (5th – 33 points): Stretched their unbeaten run to six games, but the 1-1 draw with Blackburn was their third stalemate on the spin. Defender Ryan Fredericks has been ruled out, while there are injury problems across the pitch with goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulous, defender Dani Ayala, midfielder Adam Clayton and striker Patrick Bamford all doubtful.

50 not out: This is the 50th encounter between the two sides, and the home side has only been victorious once in the last eight meetings. That success came at The Den in 2012, when Millwall recorded a 3-1 win.

Nottingham Forest v Charlton Athletic

Forest (9th – 28 points): Their run of two consecutive wins was halted last weekend, following a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham. Top scorer Britt Assombalonga netted his 12th goal of the campaign, but will miss this weekend’s fixture after being sent off just moments later.

The Addicks (10th – 28 points): Slipped to a home defeat against Ipswich last weekend, meaning it’s now just one win from their previous six matches. Bob Peeters has a few injury concerns but will leave it late to make a decision on influential midfielder Yoni Buyens.

Reading v Bolton Wanderers

The Royals (14th – 24 points): Are struggling for consistency having won three and lost three of their last six, however they were successful last Saturday when they triumphed 2-1 at Norwich. Anton Ferdinand suffered a new injury setback as he picked up a calf strain at Carrow Road, but skipper Alex Pearce returns from suspension.

The Trotters (18th – 21 points): Secured a third win in four thanks to a 1-0 win over Huddersfield last weekend. Fan-favourite Eidur Gudjohnsen is expected to be named in a Bolton squad for the first time since 2000, after rejoining the club on a short-term deal this week.

Seven-up: The Trotters will not want a repeat of last season’s visit to the Madejski Stadium, where they were thumped 7-1 by the Royals. Bolton’s last victories over Reading came during the 2007/08 season, where they took all six points from their two Premier League encounters.

Wigan Athletic v Norwich City

The Latics (23rd – 17 points): Haven’t taken three points in any of their last five matches, following a 2-1 loss to Sheffield Wednesday last time out. Midfield maestro Shaun Maloney will return to the side after missing the trip to Hillsborough due to illness.

The Canaries (11th – 27 points): Have lost three of their last four fixtures after a 2-1 defeat to Reading last weekend. Wes Hoolahan and Ryan Bennett are nearing fitness but this game will come soon for them; however Alex Tettey has shaken off a knock and will play.

A close call: These two have met just nine times, and only once has a team triumphed by more than a one-goal cushion, when Norwich recorded a 2-0 success at Carrow Road in April 2004. The last encounters came in the Premier League, with both sides winning a game each.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Bournemouth

Wolves (12th – 27 points): Added a 4-0 reverse to their recent run of heavy defeats - the loss to Brentford being their fourth on the bounce. Midfielder Jack Price has been recalled from his loan spell at Leyton Orient and could be selected as boss Kenny Jackett looks to turn their form around.

The Cherries (4th – 33 points): Six consecutive wins have now been followed by three draws, but that unbeaten run goes on following their recent 2-2 draw with Millwall. Top scorer Callum Wilson could return after shaking off a hamstring problem to try and add to his 11 goals in all competitions.

Long time, no see: These two sides haven’t encountered each other since 1998, when Bournemouth came out on top over two legs in the League Cup. The last league meeting at Molineux came in December 1989, when Wolves triumphed 3-1 over the Cherries.

All kick-off times are 3pm unless stated.

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