Championship Matchday 22 Preview

last updated Saturday 16th December 2017, 10:42 AM

Championship Matchday 22 Preview
Championship Fixtures - MatchDay 22
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Friday 15th December 2017
19:45 Sheff Wed 0-1 Wolves Sky
Saturday 16th December 2017
15:00 Birmingham v QPR -
15:00 Bolton v Burton -
15:00 Brentford v Barnsley -
15:00 Bristol C v N. Forest -
15:00 Derby v Aston Villa -
15:00 Ipswich' v Reading -
15:00 Leeds v Norwich -
15:00 Millwall v Middlesbrough -
15:00 Preston v Sheff Utd -
15:00 Sunderland v Fulham -
17:30 Cardiff v Hull Sky
League Table
After Friday's opening game in MatchDay 22 Wolves remain in top spot after a 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday putting pressure on Cardiff, at home to struggling Hull City, to keep in in touch.

In form third placed Bristol City welcome stuttering Nottingham Forest who have conceded eight goals in the opening 15 minutes of Championship matches this season, the joint worst tally in the division along with Birmingham.

Fourth and fifth placed Derby and Aston Villa go head to head at Pride Park. The Rams have lost only two of their last 14 Championship fixtures (W8 D4 L2). However Aston Villa have lost just two of their last 18 in the Championship (W10 D6).

Fulham, aiming for their fourth win in five games, travel to Sunderland where ex-manager Chris Coleman will be hoping for a home win.

Brentford face Barnsley at Griffin Park hoping the results will enable them to leapfrog Fulham. Brentford are unbeaten in their last nine league games at Griffin Park, although six have ended level.

At the bottom end of the Championship strugglers Birmingham and QPR meet at St. Andrews. QPR are on the current longest away winless run in the top four tiers of English football (17 league games) so Birmingham will be hopeful.

Two other strugglers, Bolton and Burton, play each other both desperate for points but Bolton are on a good run of form being unbeaten in their last five games while Burton have only won one game in thirteen!!

Friday 15th December 2017

19:45 Sheff Wed v Wolves Sky

Ruben Neves' classy first-half finish helped Championship leaders Wolves edge past struggling Sheffield Wednesday to go seven points clear at the top.

The hosts' best chance came early on, Adam Reach slicing wide when well-placed, but they struggled to create.

Against the run of play, Neves, the Championship's most expensive player, stroked into the corner from 25 yards.

Neves denied Ross Wallace a tap-in as the Owls pressed but a late Morgan Fox red card allowed Wolves to see it out.

Defeat added pressure on Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal - who watched from the stands because of a touchline ban - with his side without a win in six.

Saturday 16th December 2017

Birmingham v QPR -

Birmingham's injury troubles show no sign of abating ahead of Saturday's Championship clash with QPR.

Marc Roberts and Che Adams have both picked up hamstring problems, joining Maxime Colin, who is expected to remain sidelined this weekend. Defender Harlee Dean is available after suspension while midfielder Jason Lowe could be pushing for inclusion.

QPR's defensive crisis has eased for the trip to St Andrew's. Alex Baptiste is available after suspension while captain Nedum Onuoha (hamstring) and Grant Hall (knee) both returned from spells out in last weekend's defeat by Leeds.

Steven Caulker played in an under-23 match earlier this week and James Perch (knee) is also back in training. Winger Jamie Mackie serves the second game of his three-match ban.

15:00 Bolton v Burton -

Bolton are sweating on the fitness of captain Darren Pratley ahead of their clash with Burton.

The midfielder was struggling with a knee injury prior to Saturday's loss to Nottingham Forest but managed to make it through 80 minutes.

David Wheater, an unused substitute in the midlands on his return from a ban, could be restored to the starting XI while manager Phil Parkinson has other options as Adam Le Fondre, Filipe Morais, Dorian Dervite and Jem Karacan did not even make the squad at Forest.

The Brewers are currently bottom of the Championship table but would leapfrog Bolton with a win. Burton boss Nigel Clough will be hoping his injury problems ease ahead of the trip north.

Matty Lund and Joe Mason both missed last weekend's defeat at Preston through illness but could be pushing for returns.

Lloyd Dyer started at Deepdale having overcome a hamstring issue while Sean Scannell came off the bench and will be in contention to start following a groin injury. Club record signing Liam Boyce continues to recover from the serious knee injury he suffered during pre-season.

15:00 Brentford v Barnsley -

Brentford can welcome back Lasse Vibe for the visit of Barnsley.

The Danish forward is fit again after missing last weekend's 3-2 defeat at Hull with a hamstring problem. Midfielder Alan Judge is building up his fitness ahead of a long-awaited return 18 months after suffering a broken leg. Defender Rico Henry is a long-term absentee with a knee injury.

Barnsley will be without midfielder Ryan Hedges for the Sky Bet Championship clash. The 22-year-old is ruled out for several weeks due to a thigh problem.

Midfielder Lloyd Isgrove (knee) and defender Angus MacDonald (illness) have both returned to training. Skipper MacDonald could return in central defence in place of either Jason McCarthy or Liam Lindsay.

15:00 Bristol C v N. Forest -

Bristol City are hopeful Korey Smith will be available for Nottingham Forest's visit in the Sky Bet Championship.

Smith left Bramall Lane on crutches last week after a 2-1 win at Sheffield United, but the Robins hope the midfielder suffered no more than a nasty gash and some bone bruising.

Boss Lee Johnson has to assess his striker options with Famara Diedhiou (knee) and Milan Djuric (groin) ruled out and Matty Taylor is in contention to make his first start for a month. City are still without Callum O'Dowda (ankle), Eros Pisano (hamstring), Jens Hegeler (knee) and Gary O'Neil (knee).

Forest boss Mark Warburton will assess the fitness of Danny Fox and Chris Cohen ahead of the game. Fox is close to returning to action after suffering a knee injury.

Club captain Cohen, who hasn't played since August, is also closing in on a return to action following inflammation in both his knees. Defender Jack Hobbs has suffered a setback in training as he recovers from a back injury.

15:00 Derby v Aston Villa -

Derby will be without Tom Lawrence for Saturday's Sky Bet Championship clash at home to Aston Villa.

The Wales international is missing with an ankle problem suffered in last weekend's 3-0 win at Barnsley. Rams boss Gary Rowett believes Lawrence could be back in action before Christmas with the injury less severe than first feared.

Johnny Russell and Sam Winnall will both be in contention to replace Lawrence having been named on the bench last time out.

Scott Hogan could be pushing for a return to the Aston Villa starting line-up. The striker was on the bench for last weekend's goalless draw against Millwall after more than a month sidelined by a stomach problem.

Villa looked short of firepower in attack with Jonathan Kodjia and Gabby Agbonlahor sidelined. Agbonlahor (calf) and Mile Jedinak (shoulder) are close to returning, while captain John Terry (broken foot) could be in contention before the end of the year.

15:00 Ipswich' v Reading -

Ipswich could have forward David McGoldrick back in contention for the visit of Reading.

Republic of Ireland international McGoldrick has missed the last four matches after needing surgery on a deep gash to his groin. Midfielder Emyr Huws, though, has been ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery.

Defender Tristan Nydam was forced out of last weekend's defeat at Middlesbrough because of a hip problem and will be assessed. Centre-back Tommy Smith (calf) and midfielder Tom Adeyemi (hamstring) are both closing in on a return, but midfielders Luke Hyam and Andre Dozzell remain unavailable following respective knee operations.

Reading boss Jaap Stam may again name an unchanged line-up, having started with the same XI for a fourth consecutive match in Monday night's draw with Cardiff. Midfielders George Evans (thigh) and Garath McCleary (groin) are stepping up their recovery, so could soon come back into contention.

Winger Callum Harriott and midfielder John Swift both continue treatment on their hamstring problems. Forward Joseph Mendes and midfielder Stephen Quinn (both knee) are also still in rehabilitation, while defender Jordan Obita is out for the season after surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament.

15:00 Leeds v Norwich -

Leeds could select striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga in their squad for the Sky Bet Championship clash with Norwich.

Lasogga has been out since the 3-1 defeat by Brentford in November due to illness and an unspecified knock sustained in training, but the German forward has returned to first team training. Kemar Roofe scored all three goals in the 3-1 victory at QPR so even if Lasogga is given the all-clear, he is unlikely to start.

Caleb Ekuban has a foot injury and is unlikely to feature, strengthening Roofe's claim to a start up front.

Norwich could welcome back midfielder Alex Tettey from a calf injury. The Norway international has not featured since September 30, but has returned to full training, along with left-back Jamal Lewis following his knee problem.

Midfielder Alex Pritchard is expected to be in the side again after recovering from ankle surgery, while defender James Husband has been out with a groin injury. Forward Steven Naismith (ankle) is also stepping up his recovery, while midfielder Louis Thompson (Achilles), winger Matt Jarvis (ankle) and goalkeeper Remi Matthews (ankle) all continue their rehabilitation.

15:00 Millwall v Middlesbrough -

Middlesbrough boss Garry Monk has reported a clean bill of health ahead of the visit of Millwall to the Riverside.

Boro are aiming to build on last week's victory over Ipswich, which ended a run of back-to-back defeats, and will go into Saturday's clash with no injury or suspension worries.

Rudy Gestede will be pushing for a start after coming off the bench in Boro's last two fixtures against Bristol City and the Tractor Boys. The striker has recovered from a thigh injury that had sidelined him since August.

Millwall will again have Shaun Williams available. The midfielder recently played for the club's Under-23 team in preparation for his return from a knee injury.

Manager Neil Harris has been further boosted by goalkeeper Jordan Archer's return from illness. Saturday's fixture will, however, come too soon for Fred Onyedinma and Shane Ferguson, who both have knocks, and long-term absentee Byron Webster (knee).

15:00 Preston v Sheff Utd -

Preston boss Alex Neil has reported no fresh injury problems as they look to make it three wins in a row against Sheffield United at Deepdale.

Neil confirmed that none of North End's injury absentees - Josh Earl (knee), Tommy Spurr (knee), Greg Cunningham and Sean Maguire (both hamstring) - are ready to return yet.

Daniel Johnson, back on the bench against Burton following a one-game ban, is an option, as is Daryl Horgan, who came on to net the winner. However, Neil has named an unchanged team for back-to-back wins so may stick with what he has.

Sheffield United will be without key midfielder John Fleck for the match. Fleck was sent off in the defeat to Bristol City last time out and will now serve the first part of a three-match ban this weekend.

Defender Kieron Freeman (knee) and striker Ched Evans (ankle) both remain sidelined, along with midfielder Paul Coutts who has broken his leg. David Brooks came off the bench against Bristol City and the forward could be in line for a start.

15:00 Sunderland v Fulham -

Sunderland will be without the suspended Lee Cattermole when they face Fulham at the Stadium of Light.

Cattermole was sent off in last week's encouraging goalless draw against Wolves at Molineux, and boss Chris Coleman could make a number of other changes. Coleman has already indicated he could restore winger Aiden McGeady to his starting line-up after he impressed in training.

Callum McManaman is available again after suspension but Paddy McNair (groin), Bryan Oviedo (knee), Billy Jones (foot) and Didier Ndong (knee) are among those still set to be sidelined.

Fulham midfielder Neeskens Kebano will miss the trip. The Congolese midfielder limped off holding his calf shortly after half-time during the 1-0 win over Birmingham last Saturday and joins winger Floyd Ayite (hamstring) on the sidelines.

There was good news from the treatment room, though, with Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon returning to training after a broken leg. Defender Denis Odoi is available after a one-match ban.

17:30 Cardiff v Hull Sky

Cardiff have a mounting injury list for Hull's visit in the Sky Bet Championship.

Danny Ward has been booked in for a knee operation and Sean Morrison has been ruled out by the groin injury he suffered in the 2-2 draw at Reading on Monday. Aron Gunnarsson, Craig Bryson and Anthony Pilkington are also major doubts.

But Cardiff are hopeful that Omar Bogle will shrug off a calf problem to lead the attack in the absence of Ward and Kenneth Zohore.

There are doubts over a number of Hull players ahead of the contest. It remains to be seen what involvement, if any, there is for David Meyler and Max Clark, who both came off in last Saturday's 3-2 win over Brentford.

Question marks also hang over Jarrod Bowen, Markus Henriksen, Kevin Stewart and Michael Hector. All four sat out the clash with the Bees, which was Hull's first match under new boss Nigel Adkins.

Matchday 21 table
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Championship Fixtures - MatchDay 23
KO Home   Away TV
Friday 22nd December 2017
19:45 Norwich v Brentford Sky
Saturday 16th December 2017
15:00 Bolton v Cardiff -
15:00 Derby v Millwall -
15:00 Fulham v Barnsley -
15:00 Leeds v Hull -
15:00 Preston v N. Forest -
15:00 QPR v Bristol C -
15:00 Reading v Burton -
15:00 Sheff Wed v Middlesbrough -
15:00 Sunderland v Birmingham -
15:00 Wolves v Ipswich -
17:30 Aston Villa v Sheff Utd Sky
League Table

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