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Match Previews

Sky Bet Championship weekend preview

28 November 2014

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

Saturday 29th November 2014

Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town – 12.15pm – live on Sky Sports

The Addicks (9th – 28 points): Battled out a goalless draw against Millwall last weekend. The South London stalemate was their third draw in four and they are still yet to lose at The Valley this term. Nick Pope will start in place of injured goalkeeper Stephen Henderson, while midfielder Yoni Buyens is a major doubt with a hamstring injury.

The Tractor Boys (4th – 31 points): Came from behind twice to share the points with Bournemouth last time out, extending their unbeaten run to five games. They will have to do without centre-back Christophe Berra, who is serving a one-match ban, but Irish duo Sean St Ledger and Noel Hunt have been drafted into the squad this week.

One way or another:  Matches at The Valley between these two usually produce a winner, with the last stalemate coming on New Year’s Day in 1997. Ipswich have grabbed all three points from their previous two visits to Charlton, including a 1-0 success in November last year.

Birmingham City v Nottingham Forest

The Blues (19th – 19 points): Gary Rowett has stretched his unbeaten record to four matches since taking charge, following the 1-0 victory over Rotherham last Saturday. Guy Moussi has penned a short-term deal and could feature against his old club this weekend, while Clayton Donaldson, who netted the winner against the Millers, will continue up front for the suspended Wes Thomas.

Forest (8th – 28 points): Have seemingly put their bad run behind them after recording a second successive Sky Bet Championship victory, brushing aside Wolves 3-0 last weekend. Stuart Pearce has no fresh injury concerns, and is expected to name the same XI that won so convincingly at Molineux.

Bolton Wanderers v Huddersfield Town

The Trotters (21st – 18 points): Salvaged a 1-1 draw at Blackpool last weekend thanks to a late Lee Chung-Yong goal, extending their unbeaten run to three in the league. Mark Davies and Marc Tierney remain the only long-term absentees.

The Terriers (14th – 21 points): Halted a run of two defeats last Saturday lunchtime, when they shared the points in a goalless stalemate with Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday.  Joe Murphy and Alex Smithies will battle it out for the number one jersey after the latter returned to training this week.

Just the one: The last three meetings between the pair have been decided by a solitary goal, with Bolton victorious on two of those occasions; however Huddersfield’s 1-0 success did come at the Macron Stadium last season.

Bournemouth v Millwall

The Cherries (2nd – 23 points): Stretched their unbeaten run to eight games with a draw against Ipswich last weekend, although they have only taken a point from each of their last two fixtures. Tokelo Rantie is likely to miss the festive period with a shoulder injury, while fellow striker Callum Wilson faces a late fitness test.

The Lions (18th – 19 points): A goalless draw with South London rivals Charlton last weekend saw their winless run extend to four matches. Full-back Andy Wilkinson serves the final match of his suspension, while Ian Holloway has terminated the loan of Watford’s Mathias Ranegie.

Home, sweet home: The last nine fixtures between these two sides have seen the hosts come out on top, with Bournemouth winning 5-2 in an entertaining encounter on the South Coast last season. Millwall’s last triumph at Bournemouth came in December 2000.

Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers

The Bees (5th – 31 points): A last-gasp comeback in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Friday night resulted in a 2-1 success over their West London neighbours Fulham, and handed them a fourth victory in a row. Spaniard Marcos Tebar is fit again after a thigh injury.

Wolves (11th – 27 points): Have lost three on the bounce after a 3-0 reverse against Nottingham Forest at Molineux last weekend. They have scored one goal and conceded 10 during that period, an issue that Kenny Jackett is keen to address. Scott Golbourne could return, but Nouha Dicko is still unavailable.

All-square: The pair have met 18 times in The Football League and can’t be separated by their head-to-head record. Both teams have eight wins apiece, and they have shared the points on two occasions. However, Wolves ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at Griffin Park in Sky Bet League 1 last season.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Fulham

The Seagulls (20th – 18 points): Shared the points in a six-goal thriller with Norwich last weekend. It was their second draw in succession, and their third game without defeat. They've brought Darren Bent in on loan from Aston Villa, and the striker could make his debut against his former side this weekend.

The Cottagers (17th – 19 points): Threw away a lead to lose 2-1 at Brentford on Friday night, ending a run of six games without defeat. They have conceded 26 goals on the road this term, which is a league-high. Defender Dan Burn serves a one-game ban after reaching his yellow-card limit.

Keep it clean: These two sides come together for the first time in 18 years, but you have to go back all the way to 1988 to find the last game when both teams found the net – in a 2-1 away success for the Seagulls. Fulham have won five of the previous 10 without conceding and Brighton have triumphed twice, while three of the matches finished goalless.

Leeds United v Derby County

The Whites (16th – 20 points): Slipped to defeat at Blackburn last time out. The 2-1 reverse leaves them with just one win from their previous 10 fixtures. Manger Neil Redfearn has hinted he may make changes, with Rodolph Austin, Guiseppe Bellusci and Billy Sharp all pushing for a place in the starting XI.

The Rams (1st – 35 points): Recorded a third win on the bounce last weekend, when Craig Bryson’s late goal resulted in a 2-1 win at Watford which kept them at the summit of the Sky Bet Championship. Jack Butland has returned to Stoke City, so Lee Grant is likely to return in between the sticks.

Lucky 13? Leeds will go into this fixture hoping to bring their winless run against Derby to an end. The Rams have gone 12 games without defeat against the Whites, since suffering a 3-1 loss at Elland Road in 2005.

Middlesbrough v Blackburn Rovers

Boro (3rd – 32 points): Have gone five games without defeat after a 1-1 draw at Wigan last weekend. It was their third draw of that period, but they remain within three points of the league leaders. Adam Clayton is suspended after picking up five yellow cards, so Dean Whitehead or Milos Veljkovic will fight it out for his slot in midfield.

Rovers (6th – 30 points): Were 2-1 winners over Leeds last time out, despite going down to 10 men when Tom Cairney was dismissed, and the midfielder will sit this one out as a result. Rovers are looking to extend an eight-match unbeaten streak but must do so without goalkeeper Jason Steele, who cannot play against his parent club.

Familiar faces: The most-contested fixture this weekend comes at the Riverside Stadium, where the pair will face-off for the 128th time in all competitions. Blackburn hold the advantage with 57 wins compared to Boro’s 38, with 32 matches ending all-square.

Norwich City v Reading

The Canaries (10th – 27 points): Drew 3-3 with Brighton in an enthralling encounter at Carrow Road last weekend, leaving Neil Adams’ side without a win in three fixtures. Midfielder Bradley Johnson misses out after picking up five yellow cards, with Gary O’Neil likely to replace him in the starting line-up.

The Royals (15th – 21 points): Were defeated 2-1 by Cardiff last weekend, which was their second loss on the bounce. Alex Pearce was sent off in that match and will now serve a suspension after his appeal was rejected, but Anton Ferdinand and Garath McCleary are both available.

Rotherham United v Blackpool

The Millers (22nd – 18 points): Are without a win in six following a 1-0 defeat at home to Birmingham, and they have now failed to find the net in their last four outings, which has seen them drop into the relegation places. Reece James and Tom Lawrence have joined on loan from Manchester United, while defender Scott Wootton has arrived from Leeds.

The Tangerines (24th – 8 points): Made it two draws from their last three with a 1-1 stalemate against Bolton last time out. However, it is now seven games without victory and they are still seeking their first three points on the road. Kevin Foley and Stuart O’Keefe have joined the club on short-term loan deals from Wolves and Crystal Palace respectively.

It’s been a while: It’s been seven and a half years since these two met in The Football League, when Rotherham ran out 1-0 winners in League 1. The Millers have been victorious in three of the four matches since the turn of the century, with Blackpool’s last success a 4-1 win in March 1997.

Sheffield Wednesday v Wigan Athletic

The Owls (13th – 22 points): Remain mid-table despite going a 10th game without victory after they drew 0-0 with Huddersfield last weekend. Wednesday have only won one game at Hillsborough this term, with only Blackpool possessing a poorer home record. Midfielder Giles Coke is sidelined with an Achilles injury.

The Latics (23rd – 17 points): Malky Mackay saw his new side earn a point against Middlesbrough last weekend, thanks to a 1-1 draw. They are still without a win in four though, and will need to improve on their travels having only picked up five points from their nine away matches so far.

Double trouble: Last season saw these two sides meet in The Football League for the first time, with Wigan taking all six points. The Latics cruised to a 3-0 win at Hillsborough in February, before edging out the Owls again with a 1-0 success the following month.

Watford v Cardiff City

The Hornets (7th – 29 points): Defeat to table-toppers Derby last weekend was their third loss on the bounce, and it saw them slip out of the Play-Off positions. They are on good form at Vicarage Road though, having scored a league-high 21 goals at home. Adlene Guedioura is expected to start after signing on loan from Crystal Palace.

The Bluebirds (12th – 26 points): Ran out 2-1 winners last Friday when they overcame Reading at the Cardiff City Stadium. They're still seeking a first away win of the campaign, having drawn five and lost four of their nine matches on the road. Kenwyne Jones returns to the squad but looks likely to be on the bench.

High five: Cardiff are unbeaten in their last five matches against Watford, with their last defeat coming in December 2010. The Welsh side have two victories and three draws against the Hornets since that 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road.

All games are 3pm kick-offs unless stated.

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