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Match Previews

Sky Bet Championship weekend preview

7 November 2014

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

Friday 7th November 2014

Bolton Wanderers v Wigan Athletic – 8pm kick-off – live on Sky Sports

The Trotters (23rd – 14 points): Have alternated between defeats and victories over their last six fixtures. Recorded a 3-0 win over Cardiff in midweek, but Darren Pratley picked up a fifth yellow card, and will miss tonight’s game as a result. Kevin McNaughton and Joe Mason return to the squad.    

The Latics (19th – 16 points): Fell to a 1-0 defeat at Brighton on Tuesday night, leaving Uwe Rosler’s side with just one win since August. Rosler has said he is likely to make changes for the trip, with Marc-Antoine Fortune set to return, while defender Leon Barnett is back from suspension.

Saturday 8th November 2014

Birmingham City v Cardiff City

The Blues (22nd – 15 points): Clayton Donaldson scored a brace as the Blues earned a rare win at St Andrews on Tuesday night. The 2-1 success over Watford was just their second in 26 home games, and it preserved new boss Gary Rowett’s unbeaten start.

The Bluebirds (12th – 22 points): Come into this game after a midweek defeat to Bolton. The 3-0 reverse left Cardiff as one of just two sides yet to win on the road this season. Anthony Pilkington is set to return to the starting XI after shaking off an illness.

Singing the blues: The Welsh side have taken maximum points the last time these two met. A 2-1 win at the Cardiff City Stadium was followed up by a 1-0 win at St Andrews, as Cardiff marched to promotion. The last time Birmingham prevented Cardiff from taking all three points at home was back in March 2007.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Blackburn Rovers

The Seagulls (20th – 16 points): Had gone 12 games without a win, dating back to August, before Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory against Wigan. Ali Al-Habsi is likely to return after missing the match against his parent club, and loan signing Greg Halford will be hoping for a first start after coming on as a late substitute in midweek.

Rovers (8th – 26 points): Threw away a two-goal lead against Millwall on Tuesday night, to draw 2-2. Gary Bowyer’s side are now unbeaten in six, and could be boosted by the return of Lee Williamson. The midfielder missed the midweek match with a groin injury, but could be back for Saturday’s trip to the South Coast.

Derby County v Wolverhampton Wanderers – 12.15pm kick-off – live on Sky Sports

The Rams (4th – 29 points): Returned to winning ways with a 3-2 victory over Huddersfield in midweek, ending a run of two consecutive defeats. Steve McClaren has the luxury of selecting the same XI for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, although Simon Dawkins is pushing for a start after finding the net within a minute of his introduction on Tuesday.

Wolves (6th – 27 points): A goalless stalemate against Birmingham was followed by a 2-1 defeat at Ipswich on Tuesday night, leaving Kenny Jackett's men winless in two. David Edwards was forced off with a knee injury in the midweek loss, and could be replaced by Michael Jacobs.

We meet again: This is the most-played fixture out of the Sky Bet Championship games this weekend, with the two having met on 145 occasions, dating back all the way to 1888. Derby lead the way, with 61 wins to Wolves’ 51. There have been 33 draws, and two of them came when they last encountered each other, during the 2012/13 campaign.

Fulham v Huddersfield Town

The Cottagers (21st – 16 points): Extended their unbeaten run to five games, after fighting back to draw 2-2 with Blackpool on Wednesday night. Venezuelan defender Fernando Amorebieta is a slight doubt after picking up a knee injury in that game, but Ross McCormack is available again after suspension, and should return up front.

The Terriers (15th – 20 points): Despite a late fightback, their seven-game unbeaten run came to an end in midweek to Derby. The 3-2 defeat at the iPro Stadium was their first loss since mid-September, but Chris Powell is likely to continue with the same team for Saturday’s trip to West London.

Turning 21: This is the first time the pair have met for 13 years, since Fulham did the double over the Terriers in 2000/01, en route to the Premier League. The last time Huddersfield took three points from this encounter was 21 years ago, when they earned a 1-0 victory in West London in 1993.

Ipswich Town v Watford

The Tractor Boys (5th – 27 points): Two fine goals from Daryl Murphy gave Ipswich a victory over Wolves in midweek. The in-form striker now has six goals in his last six games, and his team have only lost once since their derby-day defeat to Norwich back in August - their only home defeat of the campaign. Jonny Williams could return following a calf problem.

The Hornets (3rd – 29 points): Their nine-match unbeaten run came to an end on Tuesday night, as they fell to a surprise 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, and they lost their place at the top of the Sky Bet Championship as a result. Sebastien Bassong (calf) and midfielder Gianni Munari (groin) both have fitness concerns ahead of the match.

Leeds United v Blackpool

The Whites (17th – 17 points): A superb double from Alex Mowatt wasn’t enough for three points, as they drew 2-2 with Charlton in midweek, leaving them without a win in eight matches. Guiseppe Bellusci serves a one-game ban for five cautions, but fellow defender Jason Pearce returns after missing Tuesday’s game for the same reason.

The Tangerines (24th – 7 points): Manager Lee Clark picked up his first point at his new club, with a 2-2 draw at Fulham on Wednesday night. His side threw away a two-goal lead, after Tony McMahon picked up a red card, and the full-back will now miss the next three matches.

Keep it clean: The last three meetings at Elland Road between these two have seen just one of the teams find the net, with Leeds coming out on top on the last two occasions, winning 2-0 each time. They will be keen to forget the encounter before that though, as Blackpool romped to a 5-0 success.

Middlesbrough v AFC Bournemouth

Boro (2nd – 30 points):  A 4-0 win over Norwich moved Aitor Karanka’s side level on points at the league summit, ahead of this top-of-the-table clash. They have picked up more points on their travels than at the Riverside, although they haven’t lost at home since the final weekend of August.

The Cherries (1st – 30 points): Four successive wins in October saw Eddie Howe pick up the October Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month award. November has started well too, with two more victories taking them to the top of the division. They have the best away record in the league, and have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to the North East.

Just the one: The Cherries have only beaten Middlesbrough once, with the pair having met on 13 occasions. That came in 1987, but last season the spoils were shared on both occasions, with the crowd at the Riverside witnessing a six-goal thriller.

Millwall v Brentford

The Lions (16th – 18 points): Fought back against Blackburn in midweek, coming from two goals down to grab a point at The Den. That was despite going down to 10 men, after Andy Wilkinson’s sending off, and the right-back will now serve a three-match ban after the club's appeal was rejected by the FA. Alan Dunne is likely to deputise.

The Bees (9th – 25 points): Disposed of Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night, with a 3-1 success at the City Ground giving them a second win in the space of five days. They had gone four away games without a victory before their midweek triumph, and Mark Warburton is likely to stick with the same set of players for Saturday’s match.

London calling: These two clubs are separated by under 13 miles, and not much separates them when looking at their head-to-head records either. The pair have met 61 times over the years, with Brentford having the slenderest of advantages. The Bees have 21 wins to Millwall’s 20, accompanied by another 20 draws, but the Bees haven’t won any of the last eight clashes, stretching back to 1998.

Nottingham Forest v Norwich City

Forest (11th – 22 points): It’s nine games without a win for Forest, and four defeats in the last five, after the aforementioned loss to Brentford. Danny Fox and Jack Hunt are doubts after picking up knocks. David Vaughan could come back into the side, while Jamie Paterson may be in contention for a start after impressing as a second-half substitute in midweek.

The Canaries (7th – 26 points): A 4-0 hammering at Middlesbrough on Tuesday means that Neil Adams’ team have just one win from their last seven outings. Adams is set to ring the changes after the defeat, but may be forced into one, with Kyle Lafferty picking up a hip injury in the midweek loss.

Reading v Charlton Athetic

The Royals (13th – 21 points): Cruised to a 3-0 win over Rotherham on Tuesday. A seven-game winless run has now been followed by two victories from their last three outings. Anton Ferdinand came off at half-time with a calf injury, but both he and Pavel Pogrebnyak, who has been out with a back problem, are hopeful of returning.

The Addicks (10th – 24 points): Winless in three, but managed to grab a point against Leeds in midweek, thanks to a brace from Joan Simun Edmundsson. Rhoys Wiggins picked up an injury in Tuesday’s draw, and will miss the trip to Reading. However, Joe Gomez is fit to return, and Frederic Bulot may join up with the squad after returning to training this week.

Double trouble: Reading were victorious in both meetings last season, picking up a 1-0 win both home and away. Charlton’s last success at Reading came in 1981, when they came away with a 3-1 win.

Sheffield Wednesday v Rotherham

The Owls (14th – 20 points): Suffered a 2-0 reverse to new leaders Bournemouth on Tuesday night, leaving them without a win in their last eight. They will be without Royston Drenthe, who will sit this one out after being sent off in the defeat. However, Stevie May should return as Wednesday look for just a second league victory on home soil this term.

The Millers (18th – 17 points): Have suffered back-to-back 3-0 defeats, following Tuesday night’s loss at Reading. The reverse left them without a win in four, and changes are likely to be made for the South Yorkshire derby. Kari Arnason is a doubt after stubbing a toe in midweek, which forced the Iceland international to sit out training.

You’re welcome: In The Football League, the hosts of this fixture haven’t come out on top since 1981, when Sheffield Wednesday won 2-0. Rotherham have been victorious on their last three League visits to Hillsborough, the most recent of which came in 2002. They also won the last meeting between the two sides, in last season’s Capital One Cup.

All games are 3pm kick-offs unless stated.

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