Championship Matchday 23 Preview

last updated Friday 22nd December 2017, 7:57 PM

Championship Matchday 23 Preview
Championship Fixtures - MatchDay 23
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Friday 22nd December 2017
19:45 Norwich v Brentford -
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
Wolves will hope to increase their four-point lead over the Bluebirds at the top of the table when they face Ipswich at Molineux. Although the last five league meetings between these sides have ended as draws, including each of the last three 0-0 and with Ipswich in good form a win will be hard work for Wolves.

Cardiff visit lowly Bolton who have achieved just one win in their last five games while Cardiff have not lost in their last five games.

Bristol City, fresh from their win over Manchester United in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, travel to QPR as they look to close the gap on the top two, while Derby, in fourth, will look to build on their impressive recent form at home against Millwall.

Aston Villa and Sheffield United, who start the weekend in fifth and sixth respectively, meet at Villa Park on Saturday evening and one could have their spot in the play-off places taken by Leeds, Ipswich or Preston.

Fulham are at home to Barnsley who have only taken one point from their last five games. Fulham will be trying to return to winning ways after their shock defeat at Sunderland last week.

On Friday night Brentford travel to Norwich who have lost six and won just one of their last nine fixtures while Sunderland will be hoping to make it back-to-back wins at home when they host Birmingham in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday.

Friday 22nd December 2017

19:45 Norwich v Brentford -

Norwich boss Daniel Farke is adamant his players are happy with his training methods ahead of Brentford's visit to Carrow Road on Friday.

On Thursday, media reports claimed Farke is facing a revolt because players feel they are training too much.

Norwich have lost six and won just one of their last nine fixtures to slip to 16th in the Championship table ahead of Friday's home clash with Brentford.

Brentford sit a single point above Norwich and will certainly hope to avoid a repeat of the same fixture 12 months ago, when they were thumped 5-0.

Boss Dean Smith said: "We don't normally do a debrief in the dressing room after the game, but we did there and some good stuff came out of it.

Saturday 23rd December 2017

15:00 Bolton v Cardiff -

Bolton defender Mark Little is hoping to prove his fitness for the visit of Cardiff in the Sky Bet Championship.

Little missed last weekend's defeat by Burton and had an injection in midweek. Manager Phil Parkinson otherwise has no fresh injury concerns.

Cardiff boss Neil Warnock is hopeful of welcoming back a host of players over the next few weeks, although the visit to the Macron Stadium is likely to come too soon for most. Kadeem Harris and Rhys Healey, named on the bench for the 1-0 win over Hull last week, are back in training.

The Trotters have won 11 of their last 12 home league matches against Cardiff - but they lost the most recent one in December 2015 (2-3).

The Bluebirds haven't kept a clean sheet against Bolton in any of their last eight league meetings, since winning 1-0 in January 1989.

15:00 Derby v Millwall -

Derby boss Gary Rowett could make a number of changes to his side ahead of the busy Christmas period with four matches in eight days.

Tom Lawrence (ankle), who missed last weekend's victory over Aston Villa, was due to train on Thursday, while Andreas Weimann (knock) - on target in each of the last two games before going off injured against Villa - was on the training pitch on Tuesday and both players will be assessed ahead of the visit of Millwall.

Millwall manager Neil Harris could name an unchanged side at Derby following their 2-1 win over Middlesbrough last weekend. Midfielder Shaun Williams will be pushing for his first start since September after coming on as a substitute in Millwall's last two matches.

Derby have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six home league games against the Lions (W3 D2 L1), conceding just one goal in this run.

Millwall have only won two of their last nine league matches against Derby (D4 L3).

15:00 Fulham v Barnsley -

Fulham's treatment room has emptied with three players back in training ahead of the visit of Barnsley.

Floyd Ayite, Neeskens Kebano and Lucas Piazon have all rejoined the first-team squad following spells out. Winger Ayite is the likeliest to be available to face the Tykes after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Barnsley will have Angus MacDonald back for the first game of their new era. The Reds were taken over by a consortium including baseball pioneer Billy Beane this week and MacDonald could be involved after a bout of illness.

Matty Pearson is out, though, after tearing a calf in last week's draw with Brentford and he faces a month out.

Last season Fulham completed a league double over Barnsley for the first time since the 1958/59 campaign.

The Tykes' have lost five of their last seven league trips to Fulham (W1 D1), with their only win there in this run coming in October 1999 (3-1).

15:00 Leeds v Hull -

Leeds manager Thomas Christiansen will hope striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga is fit for the visit of Hull.

The German has missed the last six matches with a calf problem and, although he returned to training last week, he was not considered for the win at Norwich. A further week's recovery could put him in contention for a return to the squad.

A lengthy injury list continues to trouble Hull boss Nigel Adkins. Midfielders David Meyler, Kevin Stewart and Marcus Henriksen, and striker Fraizer Campbell all missed last weekend's defeat at Cardiff and doubts remain over whether all four will be fit to return.

Adkins did get defender Max Clark back for that game, although he was an unused substitute and may have to settle for a similar role at Elland Road. On a more positive note striker Abel Hernandez has begun outdoor training after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in August, but he is not likely to be involved until next month.

Leeds have scored at least twice in seven of their last eight home league matches against Hull (W5 D2 L1), failing to do so in December 2006 (0-0), 11 years to the day since this fixture.

The Tigers have won only three of their last 16 league meetings with the Whites (D5 L8), with two of those wins coming in the 2012/13 season.

15:00 Preston v N. Forest -

Preston are set to be without full-back Darnell Fisher for the visit of Nottingham Forest.

He would join Josh Earl (knee), Tommy Spurr (knee), Greg Cunningham and Sean Maguire (both hamstring) on the sidelines.

Forest boss Mark Warburton will assess the fitness of Danny Fox and midfielder Chris Cohen ahead of the game. Defender Fox is close to returning from a knee injury, while club captain Cohen - who has not played since August - is also nearing a comeback following inflammation in both his knees.

Defender Jack Hobbs suffered a setback in training as he recovers from a back injury and will be assessed ahead of the match. The visitors, who have lost three of their last four games, are looking to return to winning ways after a 2-1 defeat to high-flying Bristol City on Saturday.

Preston have won just one of their last nine matches against Forest in all competitions (D4 L4).

None of the last 62 league matches between these sides have ended goalless - the last one was 107 years ago in March 1910.

15:00 QPR v Bristol C -

QPR will still be without Jamie Mackie for the visit of buoyant Bristol City. Winger Mackie completes a three-match suspension following his red card at Preston three weeks ago.

James Perch is back in training after a long-term knee injury but fellow defender Joel Lynch is still out with an ankle problem.

Bristol City have no fresh injury concerns as they return to league action. The Robins knocked Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup following a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Premier League giants on Wednesday night.

The Hoops are unbeaten in 15 home matches against the Robins in all competitions (W9 D6).

Bristol City haven't won back to back league matches against QPR since April 1977, when they won both matches against them in the 1976/77 season.

15:00 Reading v Burton -

John Swift is in line to return for Reading in their 500th game at the Madejski Stadium. Midfielder Swift has been sidelined for the last five games with a hamstring injury but is now close to full fitness and Royals manager Jaap Stam hinted he could play some part against Burton.

The game could see Garath McCleary (groin) and George Evans (thigh) feature after missing 12 and 15 games respectively. Both may have to settle for places on the bench if they are to play any part.

Burton boss Nigel Clough can pick from a fully fit squad - with two exceptions. The Brewers remain without Northern Ireland forward Liam Boyce (knee), who continues his recovery from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Wolves loanee striker Joe Mason also misses out as he battles to overcome an acutely inflamed appendix, but Clough says everyone else will be in contention. The Sky Bet Championship strugglers returned to winning ways with a narrow victory over fellow relegation-threatened side Bolton last weekend to move off the bottom of the table.

Reading have won all three previous meetings with Burton in all competitions, scoring 12 goals in those three victories.

Burton's two visits to the Madejski have seen them conceded eight goals, losing 5-1 in the League Cup in August 2009 and 3-0 last season in the Championship.

15:00 Sheff Wed v Middlesbrough -

Sheffield Wednesday defender Morgan Fox misses the visit of Middlesbrough through suspension after being sent off last week against Wolves.

Midfielder Sam Hutchinson has trained for the last three weeks after a knee injury ruled him out in October and he is now in contention for the squad while striker Steven Fletcher is hopeful of being involved in the festive programme after overcoming a knock.

Rudy Gestede will be hoping to force his way into Boro boss Garry Monk's plans. The striker has made three substitute appearances this month after coming back from a thigh injury that had sidelined him since August.

With Boro short of goals and having lost three of their last four Championship games, Gestede put his hand up for inclusion with two goals in a friendly win over Darlington on Wednesday. Midfielders Adam Clayton and Marvin Johnson also impressed and could be pushing for a place in the starting line-up.

Sheffield Wednesday have lost each of their last three matches against Middlesbrough in all competitions, losing 3-0 in their most recent meeting in the FA Cup last season.

Boro have kept one clean sheet in their last 14 meetings with the Owls at Hillsborough in all competitions, a 1-0 victory in October 1995.

15:00 Sunderland v Birmingham -

Sunderland's record signing Didier Ndong could return to the starting line-up for the crunch Sky Bet Championship clash with Birmingham.

The midfielder came on as a substitute during last weekend's victory over Fulham following a knee injury and has trained well all week. Lee Cattermole is available again after suspension but the game will come too soon for Bryan Oviedo (knee) and Paddy McNair (groin).

Birmingham midfielder David Davis will have a late fitness test after sustaining an ankle injury in last week's home defeat to QPR. Davis returned to full training on Friday morning and is hoping to be in contention as Blues chase their first league win in six matches.

Defender Marc Roberts and forward Che Adams remain sidelined due to respective hamstring injuries and Isaac Vassell is recovering from knee surgery. Full-back Carl Jenkinson, who has returned to light training following a shoulder operation, also remains unavailable.

This is the first meeting between these sides since August 2014 in the League Cup, with three late goals securing a 3-0 victory for Sunderland at St. Andrew's.

Birmingham have won seven of their last 12 league encounters with the Black Cats (D3 L2).

15:00 Wolves v Ipswich -

Wolves defender Barry Douglas is hoping to return to contention for the home game against former boss Mick McCarthy's Ipswich.

Douglas missed last week's win at Sheffield Wednesday due to a knock sustained in the previous goalless home draw against Sunderland. Head coach Nuno Espirito Santo could make changes with the Christmas fixture schedule in mind and Helder Costa, Alfred N'Diaye and Bright Enobakhare are all pushing for starts.

Ipswich defender Cole Skuse is an injury doubt for McCarthy's side. Skuse failed to appear for the second half of the 2-0 victory over Reading because of a knee injury and is being assessed.

Goalkeeper Dean Gerken faces a fitness test on his hip complaint and the visitors are missing eight central defenders to injury, according to McCarthy. England Under-19 midfielder Andre Dozzell is out for the entire season with knee ligament damage.

The last five league meetings between these sides have ended as draws, including each of the last three 0-0.

Ipswich haven't lost a league match at Molineux since August 2006, winning one and drawing five since.

17:30 Aston Villa v Sheff Utd Sky

To follow .........

Matchday 22 table
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Championship Fixtures - MatchDay 24
KO Home   Away TV
Tuesday 26th December 2017
13:00 Millwall v Wolves -
15:00 Barnsley v Preston -
15:00 Birmingham v Norwich -
15:00 Bristol C v Reading -
15:00 Burton v Leeds Sky
15:00 Cardiff v Fulham -
15:00 Hull v Derby -
15:00 Ipswich v QPR -
15:00 Middlesbrough v Bolton -
15:00 N. Forest v Sheff Wed -
15:00 Sheff Utd v Sunderland -
19:30 Brentford v Aston Villa Sky
League Table

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