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Five things to look out for in the EFL during the festive period

23 December 2022

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and that’s because there’s plenty of games across the EFL on the way.

Here are five things to look out for during the upcoming festive period…

The gift of a debut

A former Premier League star could make his Sky Bet League Two debut after Phil Bardsley signed for Stockport County on a deal until the end of the season, having been without a Club since his departure from Burnley in the summer.

The 37-year-old has pledged to donate his entire salary to the County Community Trust during his spell with the Hatters and his first involvement could come for Stockport over the festive period.

Bardsley brings a wealth of experience to the side, with over 300 top-flight games under his belt for the likes of Manchester United – where he began his career – Sunderland, Stoke City and the Clarets. This is the first time the defender will grace League Two, with Bardsley spending the majority of his career at the highest level.

Star men

It’s Coventry City’s Viktor Gyokeres that leads the Sky Bet Championship scoring charts heading into Christmas after the Swedish international notched his 11th goal of the season in the Sky Blues’ 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion last time out.

Mark Robins’ side were awarded a 93rd minute penalty in their home fixture against the Baggies which Gyokeres stepped up to take, keeping his cool to dispatch from 12 yards and seal maximum points for the hosts.

And Coventry have been just as solid as the back with keeper Ben Wilson preserving the joint most clean sheets in the Championship, managing 11 shutouts this season and counting.

Taking the reins

New Charlton Athletic boss Dean Holden will take to the dugout for the first time when the Addicks host Peterborough United on Boxing Day, and the 43-year-old will be looking to get off to a winning start.

The South Londoners are winless in six in Sky Bet League One, but Charlton come into the Christmas period on the back of an impressive victory over Premier League opposition Brighton and Hove Albion to reach the Quarter-Final of the Carabao Cup on penalties.

That result, which sees Charlton become the only remaining EFL side in the competition, will no doubt give Holden a boost ahead of his first game in charge.

Elsewhere, MK Dons named Mark Jackson as the Buckinghamshire team's new head coach earlier today, suceeding former boss Liam Manning.

Top of the tree

Recent results in League Two put third-placed Northampton Town seven points clear of fourth-placed Swindon Town, opening up a gap between the automatic promotion spots and Play-Off places.

The Cobblers came from behind to beat Carlisle United 2-1 in midweek. Sam Sherring and Louis Appéré both made the scoresheet as Northampton went unbeaten in their last eight league outings.

Meanwhile, table toppers Leyton Orient sit 16 points clear of Swindon before Christmas Day draws in.

A holiday treat

Exeter City midfielder Archie Collins is on the verge of ticking off 200 appearances for his boyhood team with the 23-year-old sitting on 198 games since signing his first professional deal with the Club in April 2017 after coming through the Grecians’ ranks.

Collins has featured 22 times in League One this season for Exeter, who now occupy 13th place, after winning promotion from League Two last season, and he could reach a milestone over the festive period.

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