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Championship MatchDay 12 ~ Preview

last updated Saturday 18th October 2014, 11:13 AM

Championship MatchDay 12 ~ Saturday 18th October 2014

Back to the real world at last. Fulham face top of the division Norwich at home in a game that would have been testing enough without all the hullabaloo surrounding the Cottage these days. Hopefully Kit is keeping the squad focus on the real business.

Fulham has experienced their best period for some time with two wins in three games. The victories were 2-1 at Birmingham and 4-0 at home to Bolton albeit both the defeated teams are having as bad a time as we are. But as they say you have to win against the teams near you in the table and the Boys did.

Norwich are a much different proposition to Bolton and Birmingham having lost just twice so far this season. Hopefully as Norwich have wobbled in their last three games, draw, lose and win, Fulham's confidence has improved and in the past Norwich have found Craven Cottage a difficult place to win at we can look forward to three points.

15:00 Cardiff v Nottingham Forest

The Bluebirds (15th - 13 points): Lost 1-0 to struggling Blackpool two weeks ago, despite an upturn in form towards the end of September. New boss Russell Slade has finally been appointed, and this will be his first game in charge of the Welsh club.

Forest (2nd - 21 points): Missed the opportunity to go top of the Sky Bet Championship when they drew 2-2 with Ipswich last time around. Have drawn five of their last six league matches, and will be without key duo Andy Reid and Jack Hobbs until at least Christmas.

Russell Slade will assess defender Bruno Manga before naming his first Cardiff line-up but the club's other internationals, including Iceland's Aron Gunnarsson and Scotland's David Marshall, all seem likely to be included in the squad.

Kelvin Wilson (illness) and David Vaughan (hamstring) are back in contention for Forest, who are unbeaten in the Championship this season. However, Jack Hobbs faces a longer spell on the sidelines after suffering a setback with his ankle injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Cardiff L D W D L; Nottm Forest W D D D D

Top scorers: Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff) 5; Britt Assombalonga (Nottm Forest) 8

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Verdict: Cardiff 1 Nottingham Forest 1

15:00 Birmingham v Bolton

The Blues (20th - 11 points): Drew with Charlton Athletic in their last fixture, having overcome Millwall 3-1 in the game before that. Their home form continues to hinder their league position - they have won just once at St Andrew's in their last 23 Championship games.

The Trotters: (24th - 5 points): Fell to a fourth straight league defeat against Bournemouth a fortnight ago that saw them slump to the bottom of the division. Since then, Dougie Freedman has been replaced by former Celtic boss Neil Lennon.

Away day blues: Bolton have the worst away record in the Championship, having lost each and every one of their five trips on the road so far.

Birmingham are boosted by the news that Lee Novak and Neal Eardley are both available to return from their respective knee injuries. Demarai Gray (ankle) is fit but Mark Duffy (calf) will be sidelined for up to eight weeks.

Bolton will begin life under Neil Lennon. Matt Mills, Jermaine Beckford and Max Clayton have caught the former Celtic manager's eye this week but it remains to be seen how Wanderers will line up on Saturday.

Last season: Bolton 2 Birmingham 2, Birmingham 1 Bolton 2

Last five league matches: Birmingham L D L W D; Bolton W L L L L

Top scorers: Koby Arthur (Birmingham) 4; Joe Mason (Bolton) 4

Referee: Mark Haywood

Verdict: Birmingham 0 Bolton 2

15:00 Bournemouth v Charlton

The Cherries (11th - 15 points): Won 2-1 at Bolton in their last outing, which was their fourth win of the season. Striker Yann Kermorgant will serve the first of a three-game ban this weekend, following his red card at the Macron Stadium two weeks ago.

The Addicks (7th - 19 points): Could only manage a point at home to Birmingham in their last fixture, missing the opportunity to break into the Play-Off places. They are now one of only three unbeaten sides in The Football League, alongside Forest and Bristol City.

Home sweet home: Bournemouth have scored in all of their five of their home league matches so far this season.

Bournemouth striker Yann Kermorgant will miss out against his former club as he begins a three-match suspension so either Brett Pitman or Tokelo Rantie will partner Callum Wilson in attack.

Charlton hope Johann Berg Gudmundsson (ankle) and Frederic Bulot will be fit, but Simon Church will miss out after suffering a dislocated shoulder while playing for Wales. Tal Ben Haim is set to return to the starting line-up after missing the Birmingham game to observe the Jewish holy day Yom Kippur.

Last season: Charlton 1 Bournemouth 0, Bournemouth 2 Charlton 1

Last five league matches: Bournemouth L D W L W; Charlton D D D W D

Top scorers: Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) 7; Igor Vetokele (Charlton) 6

Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)

Verdict: Bournemouth 1 Charlton 2

15:00 Brighton v Middlesbrough

The Seagulls (19th - 11 points): Notched their fourth consecutive draw in the Sky Bet Championship two weeks ago following a 1-1 stalemate with Watford. That means they're now without a win in their last seven league fixtures, and they've lost midfielder Andrew Crofts for the remainder of the season through injury.

Boro (5th - 20 points): Are now unbeaten in their last six league games following a victory against Fulham a fortnight ago. They possess the third strongest away record in the division, having lost just once on the road.

Sam Baldock (calf) could return for Brighton but fellow striker Craig Mackail-Smith (hamstring) remains sidelined. Albion will also be without midfielder Andrew Crofts, who is set to miss the rest of the season after suffering a second serious knee injury in the space of a year.

Aitor Karanka has no fresh injury problems as Middlesbrough look to extend their unbeaten run to eight matches. Long-term absentees Jonathan Woodgate (thigh) Damia Abella and Muzzy Carayol (both knee) and Rhys Williams (Achilles) miss out.

Last season: Brighton 0 Middlesbrough 2, Middlesbrough 0 Brighton 1

Last five league matches: Brighton L D D D D; Middlesbrough W W D D W

Top scorers: Lewis Dunk (Brighton) 4; Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) 7

Referee: Andy D'Urso (Essex)

Verdict: Brighton 1 Middlesbrough 1

15:00 Fulham v Norwich

The Cottagers (22nd - 7 points): Lost 2-0 to Middlesbrough last time out, after previously winning their first two matches of the campaign. Caretaker manager Kit Symons remains in charge following the dismissal of Felix Magath last month.

The Canaries (1st - 21 points): Dropped points at home for the fourth time this season in an entertaining 1-1 draw with Rotherham two weeks ago. They retained top spot, though, and boast the strongest away record in the division having won four of their five fixtures on their travels.

Bogey side: Norwich have failed to record a victory in their last 16 meetings with Fulham, stretching back to March 1986. The Cottagers have won 12 of those clashes since the Canaries' last win in this encounter.

Fulham will be without Fernando Amorebieta. The Venezuelan defender sustained a medial knee ligament injury at Middlesbrough a fortnight ago and is not expected back in training for another couple of weeks. Striker Adam Taggart (back) looks set to miss out again.

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty is expected to be available for Norwich, despite returning from international duty with a knee problem. Josh Murphy (heel) should also be in contention while Ryan Bennett is due to start running again after an ankle injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Fulham L L W W L; Norwich W D W L D

Top scorers: Tim Hoogland (Fulham) 4; Cameron Jerome (Norwich) 7

Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)

Verdict: Fulham 2 Norwich 2

15:00 Huddersfield v Blackpool

The Terriers (18th - 12 points): Contested a stalemate with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in their last outing. It was a point that stretched their unbeaten run to three games - two wins and a draw - and one that signalled Chris Powell's tenure has finally gathered some momentum.

The Tangerines (23rd - 6 points): Bagged their first win of the season at home to Cardiff City two weeks ago to move off the bottom of the division. Despite the victory, they are still the league's least effective side in front of goal, having scored just six times in their opening 11 fixtures.

Strong record: Blackpool have lost just once to Huddersfield in their last eight meetings.

Martin Paterson (knee) and Anthony Gerrard (calf) look unlikely to be involved so Huddersfield boss Chris Powell could select from an unchanged squad. Powell must decide whether to recall Lee Peltier or retain Tommy Smith at right-back.

Joe Lewis is expected to return for Blackpool after the on-loan goalkeeper had to miss the win over his parent club Cardiff. Former Huddersfield defender Peter Clarke has declared himself well again after suffering from a twisted colon in recent weeks while Jose Miguel Cubero (ankle) could be fit.

Last season: Blackpool 1 Huddersfield 0, Huddersfield 1 Blackpool 1

Last five league matches: Huddersfield D L W W D; Blackpool L D L D W

Top scorers: Nahki Wells (Huddersfield) 6; Nathan Delfouneso (Blackpool) 2

Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire)

Verdict: Huddersfield 1 Blackpool 0

15:00 Ipswich v Blackburn

The Tractor Boys (6th - 19 points): Drew 2-2 with Nottingham Forest last time out to stretch their unbeaten run to seven matches. Daryl Murphy scored twice in that game but he, along with Jonny Williams, are likely to miss this fixture after the duo picked up injuries whilst on international duty.

Rovers (12th - 15 points): A stalemate at home to Huddersfield in the last round of fixtures means Blackburn are now without a win in three. They have struggled in their last five visits to Ipswich, not picking up three points there since November 1994. Chris Sutton, Alan Shearer and Tim Sherwood were on target in their last success at Portman Road.

Ipswich will monitor the fitness of Daryl Murphy (Achilles) and Jonny Williams (ankle and calf). Frank Nouble (Coventry) and Freddie Veseli (Port Vale) are still sidelined with groin and rib injuries respectively.

Grant Hanley (ankle) and Josh King have added to Blackburn's injury problems. Jason Lowe (foot), Chris Brown (knee) and Tommy Spurr (groin) are already out but David Dunn (knee) is fit again and Corry Evans is back from suspension.

Last season: Blackburn 2 Ipswich 0, Ipswich 3 Blackburn 1

Last five league matches: Ipswich W W W D D; Blackburn L W D L D

Top scorers: Daryl Murphy (Ipswich) 6; Rudy Gestede (Blackburn) 5

Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire)

Verdict: Ipswich 1 Blackburn 1

15:00 Millwall v Wolves

The Lions (16th - 12 points): Recorded a respectable draw away to Derby a fortnight ago having previously suffered two back-to-back defeats. That point was just their second taken from their last 18 available, following a miserable September that brought four defeats.

Wolves (8th - 19 points): Drew 2-2 with Wigan Athletic at Molineux last time around. Having lost to Huddersfield at home prior to that. They've only notched on win in six and have only triumphed once on the road in five.

Away advantage: Four of the last five league meetings between these teams have ended in a win for the travelling side, with each club recording two away victories.

Lee Martin is close to returning to the Millwall squad, having been out since early September with a knee ligament injury. Nicky Bailey (calf) remains sidelined. Striker Ricardo Fuller is pushing for a recall.

Wolves boss Kenny Jackett, returning to his former club, must make a decision on whether Bakary Sako is ready after being on international duty with Mali. If Sako is rested, James Henry could return in midfield. Striker Nouha Dicko has shaken off an Achilles injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Millwall L D L L D; Wolverhampton D W D L D

Top scorers: Mark Beevers (Millwall) 2; Bakary Sako (Wolverhampton) 5

Referee: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire)

Verdict: Millwall 0 Wolves 2

15:00 Reading v Derby

The Royals (13th - 15 points): Fell 3-1 to Brentford two weeks ago, and have seen a dramatic decline in form of late, losing three and drawing two of their last five games in all competitions. They've picked up twice the amount of points at home than on their travels, recording three victories from five at the Madejski.

The Rams (4th - 20 points): Drew 0-0 with Millwall at the iPro Stadium a fortnight ago, and were one of many sides that scuppered the chance to lead the field at the international break. Derby players did perform well for their countries however, with Jamie Ward and Will Hughes getting on the scoresheet for Northern Ireland and the England Under-21's respectively.

Reading will check on Danny Guthrie (hamstring). Fellow midfielder Hope Akpan was also absent against Brentford prior to the international break with an ankle knock but he has since made his debut for Nigeria and should be available.

Derby captain Richard Keogh should be fit. Keogh suffered a hamstring strain while with the Republic of Ireland but he trained with the Rams squad on Thursday. Fellow central defender Jake Buxton is expected to come back into the reckoning following his hip-flexor injury.

Last season: Reading 0 Derby 0, Derby 1 Reading 3

Last five league matches: Reading W L D D L; Derby W D W W D

Top scorers: Simon Cox (Reading) 5; Chris Martin (Derby) 7

Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)

Verdict: Reading 0 Derby 1

15:00 Sheffield Wednesdayv Watford

The Owls (9th - 17 points): Drew 1-1 with Leeds at Elland Road last time out, and are now without a victory in their last four in all competitions. They have won only once at Hillsborough so far this season, drawing three and losing one of their other home fixtures.

The Hornets (3rd - 21 points): Drew with Brighton last time out to take their undefeated record to five games. They boast the best home record in the division, with their only two defeats this season coming on the road. This game will be Slavisa Jokanovic's first as a manager in English football.

Four in a row? Watford have recorded a 4-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in each of the last three Championship seasons which they have met.

Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Sam Hutchinson could return to contention after a back problem. Kieran Lee (groin) showed no ill-effects following his return to action before the international break and is expected to resume in midfield.

Watford skipper Troy Deeney is back in full training and his fitness will be assessed. The striker has been sidelined for a month with a hamstring injury and could return for Slavisa Jokanovic's first game in charge. Fernando Forestieri has recovered from an eye problem.

Last season: Sheff Wed 1 Watford 4, Watford 0 Sheff Wed 1

Last five league matches: Sheff Wed W W L D D; Watford W D D W D

Top scorers: Stevie May 5 & Atdhe Nuhiu (Sheff Wed) 5; Matej Vydra (Watford) 4

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)

Verdict: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Watford 2

15:00 Wigan v Brentford

The Latics (21st - 10 points): Drew 2-2 at Wolves two weeks ago to earn a point - they are without a victory since August, though. Shaun Maloney and James McLean both had positive international breaks for Scotland and the Republic of Ireland respectively, and the Latics will be hoping they carry their form into the weekend.

The Bees (10th - 17 points): Have performed well so far, notching five wins from their 11 games to sit just four points adrift of top spot. They could move into the Play-Off positions should results go their way this weekend but they have only overcome Wigan just once in the last 11 meetings between the two, with the Latics taking all three points on eight occasions.

Reunion: This will be Uwe Rosler's first game against his old club, after he swapped Brentford for Wigan in December 2013.

Wigan skipper Emmerson Boyce's leg injury will be assessed as Latics boss Uwe Rosler prepares to face his former club for the first time. Midfielder Adam Forshaw will also come up against his old employers following his summer switch to the DW Stadium.

Stuart Dallas could return to the Brentford squad after a thigh problem. Full-back Nico Yennaris is fit after a back injury while winger Sam Saunders and midfielder Tommy Smith (both knee) are also back in training, although they will not be risked.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Wigan D L L D D; Brentford L L W L W

Top scorers: Callum McManaman (Wigan) 4; Jonathan Douglas 3, Stuart Dallas 3 & Andre Gray (Brentford) 3

Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)

Verdict: Wigan 2 Brentford 1

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