Team news: Fox a doubt for Southampton
All the team news ahead of the weekend's Championship fixtures.
SATURDAY (all kick-offs 3pm unless stated)
Coventry City v Birmingham City (12.30pm)
Coventry have no new injury or suspension problems. Loan striker Alex Nimely proved his fitness to keep his place in attack for Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace and will again be involved, but midfielder David Bell missed out with a groin complaint and is to be assessed. Manager Andy Thorn made two changes against the Eagles, Carl Baker replacing Bell while fit-again defender Nathan Cameron got his first taste of action in over two months as he relegated Cyrus Christie to the bench. Skipper Sammy Clingan and striker Cody McDonald, who came on to bag City's 80th-minute equaliser, continue to push for starting roles. Defenders Richard Wood (knee) and Hermann Hreidarsson (shoulder) will again watch from the stands.
Midfielder Keith Fahey (groin) and left-back David Murphy (hip) both missed the midweek FA Cup defeat to Chelsea and will be monitored ahead of the weekend, while centre-back Steven Caldwell (ribs) remains a major doubt. But quartet Peter Ramage, Andros Townsend, Erik Huseklepp and Caleb Folan all return to the fold having been ineligible to feature. Curtis Davies shrugged off illness to start against Chelsea and should again be okay to face the Sky Blues, but skipper Stephen Carr (knee) continues to sit out. Striker Marlon King returns to the Ricoh Arena for the first time since switching across the midlands last summer, while Coventry winger Gary McSheffrey also comes up against his former club in the 12.30pm kick-off.
Reading v Leicester City
Reading hope to have Jimmy Kebe back in their matchday squad. Kebe has missed the Royals' last two matches with a knee problem but could return, although he will have to oust either Hal Robson-Kanu or captain Jobi McAnuff to regain his place in the starting line-up. The news is not so good for full-backs Matthew Connolly and Andy Griffin, however. On-loan Connolly sustained an ankle injury during the 2-1 win at Millwall last weekend and is unlikely to feature, with Shaun Cummings ready to step in on the right of defence once more. Griffin has been struggling with a hamstring injury of late and is also unlikely to be available to manager Brian McDermott, whose side go in search of their eighth straight win.
Leicester have no new problems. The Foxes' play-off hopes suffered another setback in midweek as they were beaten at struggling Bristol City. Another loss on Saturday would make what manager Nigel Pearson already describes as a `massive' task to gatecrash the top six almost impossible. Paul Gallagher will come into contention for a start after ending a three-match absence with a hamstring injury as a late substitute against the Robins on Tuesday night. Fellow forwards Steve Howard and Jeff Schlupp, midfielder Danny Drinkwater and centre-half Sol Bamba will also be hoping for recalls. Full-back Paul Konchesky will serve the second game of his three-match suspension.
Nottingham Forest v Millwall
Marcus Tudgay, Paul Anderson and George Elokobi are concerns for Nottingham Forest. However, defender Danny Higginbotham could be available again after missing the last two matches with a hamstring problem. Striker Tudgay (groin) and midfielder Anderson (thigh) sustained injuries during the warm-up ahead of the home game against Doncaster on Tuesday night. Defender Elokobi was forced off midway through the second half against Rovers with back and hamstring trouble. All three players will continue to be assessed and a late decision will be made on their fitness. Jonathan Greening missed out in midweek because of an ongoing ankle injury. The midfielder has been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks and is currently unable to play back-to-back matches but he could be patched up in time for Saturday.
Liam Trotter and Darius Henderson hope to return to the Millwall squad. Midfielder Trotter has missed the last three matches with a thigh injury while striker Henderson sat out the clashes with Reading and Peterborough with a hamstring problem. The duo should be in contention to face Forest but could struggle to get into the team after the impressive 3-0 win at Posh on Tuesday night. Defender Shane Lowry could miss out again with an ankle problem and midfielder Jimmy Abdou is also a doubt after sitting out in midweek with a knock. Midfield pair Therry Racon (ankle) and Tamika Mkandawire (knee) remain long-term absentees while back-up goalkeeper is still struggling with an ankle injury.
Brighton and Hove Albion v Portsmouth
Brighton are still without Gary Dicker. Manager Gus Poyet has pencilled in the influential midfielder for a return to action against Derby on March 20 after nearly five months out recovering from a broken leg. Full-back Marcos Painter is not yet back to fitness following a hamstring injury and defender Tommy Elphick is a long-term absentee with an Achilles problem. But Poyet has no new injury concerns following Wednesday night's 2-2 draw with fellow play-off hopefuls Cardiff. Striker Sam Vokes scored as a substitute in midweek to push his claims for a return to the starting line-up.
Tal Ben-Haim could return to the Portsmouth squad. The Israeli defender missed Tuesday night's narrow 1-0 defeat at Reading after coming down with a virus on the morning of the game. Boss Michael Appleton will hand Ben-Haim a late fitness check but is hopeful he will be available to boost a threadbare Pompey squad. Veteran strikers Kanu and Benjani look set to miss out again. Kanu is still struggling for fitness due to a back problem and Benjani has a calf injury.
Southampton v Barnsley
Leaders Southampton will check on Danny Fox. Fox missed Tuesday night's 1-1 draw against Ipswich with a groin injury and remains a doubt, with Dan Harding ready to deputise at left-back again. Fellow defender Dan Seaborne is still recovering from a head injury but otherwise boss Nigel Adkins has a fully-fit squad to choose from after midfielder Adam Lallana (groin) and winger Steve de Ridder (foot) returned from injuries in midweek. Adkins is set to rotate his squad again for their third match in a week.
Barnsley's new loan signing Frank Nouble is expected to be included in the squad. The 20-year-old West Ham striker, who returns to the club after a previous spell on loan at Oakwell, has joined the Tykes for a month and may even start. Defender Rob Edwards has not recovered from the knock that kept him out of the midweek defeat at Middlesbrough, but manager Keith Hill has no new injury or suspension worries. Hill made four changes for the midweek defeat at Middlesbrough, with midfielders Michael Tonge and Korey Smith and defender Jay McEveley dropped to the substitutes' bench, while teenager Paul Digby was not included in the squad. All four players will be hoping to play some part at Southampton as Hill's side chase their first win in five league matches.
Hull City v Ipswich Town
Hull midfield pair Robbie Brady and Seyi Olofinjana are back in contention. Winger Brady, on a season-long loan from Manchester United, missed the goalless midweek draw with Leeds due to a thigh strain, but is expected to be fit, while Olofinjana was rested as manager Nick Barmby did not want to risk the Nigerian with two games in five days. Corry Evans returned to the Tigers' midfield against Leeds and Barmby must decide whether to recall Brady and Olofinjana to his starting line-up. Striker Josh King is pushing for his first league start after stepping off the bench in all of his five appearances since arriving on loan from Manchester United in mid-January.
Michael Chopra has shrugged off an ankle complaint to be fit. The striker, who has bagged six goals in his last seven games, took a knock in Tuesday's 1-1 draw at leaders Southampton but managed to complete the 90 minutes. Otherwise, Jimmy Bullard is the only absentee from Town's travelling party, with the midfielder's two-week club suspension ruling him out of the chance to face his former employers.
Derby County v Watford
Derby will continue to patch up Jason Shackell. Shackell has been nursing a hamstring problem for several weeks but the centre-half maintained his ever-present record this season to start against Blackpool on Tuesday night. Jamie Ward is likely to remain absent for Saturday's game and perhaps the re-arranged East Midlands derby against Nottingham Forest at Pride Park next week. The forward has missed the last two matches with a thigh injury he picked up while away on international duty with Northern Ireland.
Dale Bennett will miss Watford's trip to Derby due to concussion. The centre-back was stretchered off during Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Upton Park and taken to hospital before later being released after a series of tests, although he will still sit out at Pride Park. Bennett was knocked out during a collision with Hornets skipper John Eustace, who received stitches to a head wound but continued to play on and is fine to face the Rams. Defender Nyron Nosworthy was ruled out from the off against the Hammers due to illness but is hoping to be okay this weekend. Midfielder Ross Jenkins (groin) and forward Gavin Massey (tooth infection) again miss out, while Stephen McGinn (knee) is still not ready for first-team action.
West Ham United v Doncaster Rovers
West Ham will check on defender Winston Reid. Reid has missed the Hammers' last two matches after he was knocked unconscious playing for New Zealand last week. Midfielder Papa Bouba Diop is still missing with a hamstring injury, defender Guy Demel remains sidelined with a thigh problem and striker John Carew is short of fitness after knee trouble. But the Hammers have no new injury worries after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Watford on Wednesday.
Tommy Spurr is an injury doubt for Doncaster. Herita Ilunga spent time on loan at the Keepmoat Stadium earlier this season and is back training with Rovers following his release by the Hammers. Saunders has stated he will pursue a short-term deal for the left-back if Spurr is ruled out. Habib Bamogo returned to training on Thursday and could contest a place in attack following a hamstring injury, although the game is expected to come too soon for Martin Woods after the midfielder had a pain-killing injection in his knee. Captain Brian Stock is out with a torn groin muscle, while George Friend (knee) remains out.
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Junior Stanislas and Michael Duff will have late fitness tests. Stanislas has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since the Clarets' 2-1 win at Middlesbrough in January but has returned to training with Eddie Howe's squad. Northern Ireland international defender Duff is battling to overcome a dead leg suffered in last weekend's defeat to Watford.
Nathaniel Clyne remains a doubt for Crystal Palace. The Eagles' player of the year last season has missed the last three matches with a knee injury. Paul McShane has been deputising for Clyne at right-back and will continue at Turf Moor if he is ruled out again. David Wright is back in training after a calf injury but is unlikely to be risked and fellow midfielder Jonathan Williams is still recovering from a broken leg. But boss Dougie Freedman has no new injury worries following Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at Coventry.
Peterborough United v Blackpool
Lee Tomlin is expected to return for Peterborough. Tomlin has missed the last two matches - defeats to Crystal Palace and Millwall - through illness. The forward is likely to be restored to the starting line-up if he has sufficiently recovered. Full-back Craig Alcock played out of position at centre-half again against Millwall on Tuesday night, with recent signing Shaun Brisley overlooked once more. Manager Darren Ferguson is hoping to sign a central defender in time for Saturday's game but if no deal materialises, 21-year-old Brisley may make his Posh debut. Striker David Ball and midfielders Daniel Kearns and Lee Frecklington are also options for Ferguson, whose side have lost six of their last nine Championship games.
Ian Holloway could ring the changes. Holloway named an unchanged XI for the first time since November as the Seasiders' promotion challenge faltered with a 2-1 defeat at Derby in midweek. Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Matt Phillips returned as substitutes in the Pride Park loss following spells on the sidelines with respective knee and hamstring injuries. Both could come into a starting XI that has featured veteran due Kevin Phillips and Brett Ormerod among the attacking options in the last two matches. Craig Cathcart could come back into the heart of defence following a hamstring injury of his own.
Bristol City v Cardiff City (5.20pm)
Bristol City will assess Lewin Nyatanga's ankle injury. On-loan midfielder Sean Davis will return to the matchday squad after recovering from a minor knock, while manager Derek McInnes has not ruled out another appearance for young winger Joe Bryan - who made his debut on Tuesday night. Marvin Elliott has been ruled out for the season after snapping his Achilles tendon, and broken ankle victim David Clarkson will also not play a part. Defender Cole Skuse requires further recuperation time before he can make his comeback from a broken toe, while James Wilson could be sidelined for the rest of the campaign with an ankle problem picked up in training. Albert Adomah could return to the starting line-up after making a swift recovery from a knee problem.
Cardiff are likely to be without striker Rudy Gestede. Gestede limped off in the first half of the Bluebirds' 2-0 home defeat to West Ham on Sunday with a hamstring problem and missed the 2-2 draw at Brighton in midweek. Manager Malky Mackay is expected to keep Joe Mason, who netted at the Seagulls, up front alongside Kenny Miller in the Frenchman's absence. Midfielder Stephen McPhail continues his battle against the onset of Sjogren's Syndrome and he is unlikely to feature at Ashton Gate, while Filip Kiss and Craig Conway will both be hoping for recalls. On-loan Liam Lawrence made his debut at the Amex Stadium on Wednesday to rave reviews from Mackay, and he is set to keep his place in midfield.
Middlesbrough v Leeds United
Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray will welcome midfielder Rhys Williams back from suspension. The Australia international sat out Tuesday night's 2-0 victory over Barnsley after being sent off during the 3-1 win at Portsmouth at the weekend. However, Mowbray has a series of other injury doubts as he prepares for the match. Midfielder Barry Robson and striker Marvin Emnes emerged from the Barnsley game with thigh problems and will be assessed in the run-up to the game, as will Julio Arca (calf), Kevin Thomson (illness), Nicky Bailey (back) and Adam Hammill, who took a heavy kick against the Tykes. Keeper Danny Coyne (calf) is due back in training this week while Scott McDonald (knee) remains on the sidelines.
Leeds defender Aidy White could return. The 20-year-old missed Tuesday night's goalless draw at Hull with a knock and midfielder Danny Pugh dropped slotted in at left-back. But manager Neil Warnock also has latest loan signing Paul Robinson at his disposal and the Bolton defender could make his debut after sitting on the bench in midweek. Fellow defenders Leigh Bromby (knock) and Alex Bruce (hamstring) also missed out at Hull and are not expected to be included in the squad. Paul Connolly started in place of Bromby at full-back and is likely to continue. Danny Webber made his first start for the club in midfield at Hull and is hoping to retain his place, but Lloyd Sam is pushing for a recall, as are strikers Billy Paynter and Ramon Nunez. Midfielder Mika Vayrynen (groin) remains sidelined together with long-term absentees Patrick Kisnorbo and Davide Somma (both knee).