Team news: Sharp set to play
All the team news ahead of Saturday's Championship fixtures, with Billy Sharp set to play for Doncaster despite doubts over his future.
All matches kick off at 15:00 unless otherwise stated
Doncaster Rovers v Cardiff City
In-demand Doncaster striker Billy Sharp is set to return to the starting line-up when Dean Saunders' side chase their fourth consecutive npower Championship home win against Cardiff. Sharp did not feature in last weekend's 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Notts County and the 10-goal forward has been the subject of frenzied transfer speculation, with a number of clubs thought to be chasing his signature. Leicester had an offer for the 25-year-old accepted this week before Doncaster responded by offering Sharp a lucrative new contract. Defensive midfielder Damien Plessis finally received international clearance on his loan move from Panathinaikos on Wednesday and is available for selection along with Herold Goulon, who has shaken off a hamstring problem. Saunders' midfield options could be further boosted by the returns of Martin Woods and John Oster, who appeared from the bench against Notts County following lengthy spells on the sidelines with respective groin and neck problems. Rovers have mixed news in defence this week as Shelton Martis returns from a groin injury, but Pascal Chimbonda remains out due with his hip problem and George Friend is facing a month in the treatment room due to medial ligament damage.
Cardiff are set to be without striker Rudy Gestede for their npower Championship trip to Doncaster on Saturday. Gestede missed the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday with an twisted ankle picked up during the FA Cup third-round clash with West Brom last weekend. The Frenchman, who has struggled with a succession of injuries this term, is unlikely to be available to manager Malky Mackay in South Yorkshire. Other than that, however, Mackay has no new concerns ahead of the trip to the Keepmoat Stadium. Meanwhile, goalkeeper David Marshall could be restored between the sticks after being rested for the two recent cup encounters, with Tom Heaton making way.
Millwall v Birmingham City
Darius Henderson is set to miss out again when Millwall host Birmingham. The Lions' nine-goal top scorer recently returned from a spell out with a hamstring problem, only to suffer a torn hip muscle which kept him out of Saturday's FA Cup draw against Dagenham. However, fellow forward Dany N'Guessan could be back in the squad after recovering from an ankle strain. Skipper Paul Robinson is expected to shake off a knock he sustained against the Daggers but fellow defender Jordan Stewart is still out with a hamstring tear. Therry Racon has seen specialists in London and France in a bid to recover from a long-term ankle injury but is not expected back this month and Tamika Mkandawire is still recovering from a knee op.
Birmingham will hope Boaz Myhill recovers from illness in time for the trip to Millwall. The goalkeeper was replaced at half-time in Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Ipswich due to sickness, with Colin Doyle prepared to step in between the sticks once again if necessary. Otherwise, manager Chris Hughton is expected to have pretty much the same squad at his disposal. Centre-back Pablo Ibanez (knee) will again be assessed although the Spaniard is unlikely to start in any case, while captain Stephen Carr remains 10 days or more away from a return. Midfielder Guirane N'Daw in on African Nations Cup duty with Senegal and misses out again, while Hughton's attempts to bring West Brom striker Chris Wood back to the club on loan have ended after he penned a deal with Bristol City for the rest of the season.
Derby County v Coventry City
Derby have no new injury or suspension worries for their clash with npower Championship bottom side Coventry. Nathan Tyson had been a doubt for the Rams' 1-0 FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace last weekend with a groin injury, but returned to the bench. The striker will be hoping to oust Callum Ball or Jamie Ward for a place in Nigel Clough's starting XI, with Theo Robinson almost guaranteed a striking berth after scoring in each of Derby's last two games. Midfielder Jeff Hendrick (ankle) and striker Steve Davies (skull fracture) are continuing to step up their recovery in training from respective injuries, but this game will come too soon. Mark O'Brien (cruciate ligament) and Saul Deeney (shoulder) remain on the long-term injury list.
Coventry are juggling a host of injury problems ahead of their trip to Derby. Leading scorer Lukas Jutkiewicz has recovered from a back complaint and is due to be in contention at Pride Park, provided he is still a Coventry player with the Midlands club having received bids for his services. Manager Andy Thorn has signed Manchester City forward Alex Nimely on loan until the end of the season but the 20-year-old is not expected to be available until Monday. Defenders Chris Hussey (ankle) and Richard Wood (groin) are both unlikely to feature, while striker Cody McDonald (knee) also remains on the sidelines. Skipper Sammy Clingan (fractured toe) and full-back Jordan Clarke (knee) each got a hour under their belts for City's reserves in midweek but a starting spot against the Rams is expected to come too soon. Freddy Eastwood bagged a brace for the second string in their 3-2 win over Chesterfield but he is still deemed not fit enough for first-team involvement. However, fellow forward Clive Platt (back) trained on Thursday morning and should be involved.
Brighton and Hove Albion v Bristol City
Brighton look set to be without Kazenga LuaLua for the visit of Bristol City. LuaLua limped out of last weekend's 1-1 FA Cup draw against Wrexham with a hamstring injury and, although the problem is not serious, is unlikely to be fit in time for Saturday. Fellow winger Craig Noone (hamstring) is still out but Albion's injury list is clearing up with defenders Adam El-Abd, Marcos Painter and Mauricio Taricco (all hamstring), winger Vicente Rodriguez (thigh) and striker Will Hoskins (knee) pushing to return. Skipper Gordon Greer is still suspended but fellow centre-half Lewis Dunk is back from a two-match ban for collecting 10 yellow cards. Midfielder Gary Dicker (broken leg) and defender Tommy Elphick (Achilles) are long-term absentees.
Bristol City will be without the suspended Stephen Pearson for their npower Championship trip to Brighton on Saturday. Pearson, who signed on permanently at Ashton Gate last week, was sent off during the 1-0 FA Cup third-round defeat at Crawley last weekend and serves a one-match ban. Meanwhile, Robins manager Derek McInnes is sweating over the fitness of midfielder Marvin Elliott, who is still struggling with a hamstring injury picked up during the 1-0 victory over Millwall on January 3. Kalifa Cisse is likely to fill in if Elliott continues to miss out, while defender Liam Fontaine remains sidelined with a knee problem that could keep him out of action until next month. New signings Ricky Foster and Chris Wood are in line for debuts this weekend after arriving from Aberdeen and West Brom recently.
Ipswich Town v Blackpool
Ipswich are hopeful Jason Scotland is fit for the visit of promotion-chasing Blackpool. The striker was forced off in the 79th minute of Wednesday's 2-1 defeat at Birmingham having taken a couple of knocks but manager Paul Jewell is confident he will be okay. Skipper Grant Leadbitter also emerged from the clash nursing a minor complaint but is expected to shrug it off. Otherwise, Jewell is not expected to have any of his injured players available. Jimmy Bullard remains sidelined with a serious virus, as does fellow midfielder Lee Bowyer (groin) while defender Damien Delaney continues to be doubtful with a foot problem. Town have lost 11 of their previous 14 matches in all competitions and currently sit just three points above the drop zone.
Matt Gilks is nearing fitness but the visit to Ipswich will come too soon for the Blackpool goalkeeper. A groin injury has kept Gilks on the sidelines since the goalless draw with Watford in December and, although he is due to resume full training next week with a view to returning in the for the home clash with Crystal Palace, Mark Howard will deputise between the posts for the a fifth consecutive game. Barry Ferguson serves the final game of a three-match ban after the Seasiders' captain received a straight red card in the defeat at Birmingham on New Year's Eve.
Nottingham Forest v Southampton
Nottingham Forest will hope Greg Cunningham can return to the fold when they welcome npower Championship frontrunners Southampton. The Republic of Ireland international left-back missed the goalless FA Cup draw with local rivals Leicester last weekend due to a tight hamstring. In his absence, 19-year-old Welshman Keiron Freeman made his full debut for Forest but manager Steve Cotterill may opt for the experience Cunningham will bring against Saints. Robbie Findlay remains a doubt with the shoulder injury that has forced him to miss the last two games, while fellow striker Dexter Blackstock and midfielder Paul Anderson could be pushing for starting roles after recovering from calf and hamstring complaints respectively. However, Ishmael Miller, Chris Cohen, Wes Morgan and Brendan Moloney remain on the sidelines.
Southampton are still without suspended top scorer Rickie Lambert for the trip to Nottingham Forest. The 17-goal striker serves the second game of a three-match ban for his red card against Brighton a fortnight ago. Defender Jose Fonte remains a doubt due to a toe injury and midfielder Richard Chaplow is still out with a knee problem but winger Steve de Ridder could return to the squad after missing the last two matches with a groin injury. Boss Nigel Adkins rested some key men for the FA Cup win at Coventry last weekend so goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, right-back Frazer Richardson and strikers Guly do Prado and David Connolly should all be back. Defenders Dan Seaborne (head) and Radhi Jaidi (knee) are long-term absentees.
Hull City v Peterborough United
Hull manager Nick Barmby faces several selection dilemmas for the home game against Peterborough. Barmby has no new injury or suspension worries and virtually a fully-fit squad to choose from. But after making seven changes for last week's FA Cup win over Ipswich, he must decide who to leave in his starting line-up and who to recall. Goalkeeper Vito Mannone, back on loan from Arsenal, defenders Liam Cooper and Joe Dudgeon and midfielders Tom Cairney, Richard Garcia and Robbie Brady will all be hoping to keep their places after returning to the starting line-up against Ipswich. Paul McShane has joined Crystal Palace on loan.
Tommy Rowe is a doubt for Peterborough's trip to Hull. The defender suffered an Achilles injury during the second half of Posh's FA Cup third-round defeat to Sunderland last week and a late decision will be made over whether he will feature. Mark Little has made a full recovery from a groin injury and the full-back will be pushing for a starting place after making substitute appearances in each of the last two games. Also looking to force his way back into manager Darren Ferguson's plans is midfielder Nicky Ajose, who has returned to London Road following the end of his loan spell with npower League One outfit Scunthorpe. Top goal scorer Grant McCann is on the cusp of a come back from a knee complaint but this game will come too soon for the midfielder, while Lee Frecklington (groin) is around three weeks away from contention.
Leicester City v Barnsley
Jeffrey Schlupp is out for Leicester as they prepare for the visit of Barnsley. The 19-year-old has a knee injury and is missing along with fellow strikers Steve Howard, who is suspended, and Darius Vassell, who is out for the season with cruciate ligament damage. Manager Nigel Pearson will also have to do without defensive duo Sol Bamba and John Pantsil who are on African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast and Ghana respectively. Full-backs Paul Konchesky and Lee Peltier recovered from knocks to play in last week's FA Cup draw with Nottingham Forest and should retain their starting places. Academy product Liam Moore is back in contention after being cup-tied last week.
Barnsley's new signing Chris Dagnall could make his debut at Leicester. Dagnall, who played under Tykes boss Keith Hill when the pair were at Rochdale, joined for an undisclosed fee from Scunthorpe last week but was ineligible for the FA Cup defeat to Swansea. Skipper Jacob Butterfield is sidelined for the rest of the season due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury and winger Jim O'Brien is not expected to return from a stomach muscle problem. But fellow midfielder Danny Drinkwater (thigh) was back against Swansea and is likely to feature once more. Striker Ricardo Vaz Te scored his 11th and 12th goals of the season last week and will continue his partnership up front alongside Craig Davies. Strikers Andy Gray and Reuben Noble-Lazarus, defenders Scott Wiseman and Rob Edwards and teenage midfielder Paul Digby are all pushing for a place in the starting line-up.
Portsmouth v West Ham United
Portsmouth have injury doubts over Ricardo Rocha, Hayden Mullins and Luke Varney ahead of the visit of West Ham. Defender Rocha limped out of Sunday's FA Cup defeat at Chelsea after aggravating the calf injury which had kept him out of the previous two matches and is unlikely to be involved. Mullins also came off at Stamford Bridge with a calf problem but manager Michael Appleton is hopeful the midfielder will be fit to face his former club. Striker Varney this week had an injection in a bid to speed up his recovery from the knee injury which has sidelined him for over a month but he will not be risked if there are any doubts over his fitness. Pompey hope to re-sign left-back Joe Mattock on loan from West Brom.
West Ham have the rare luxury of an almost fully-fit squad for the trip to Portsmouth. The Hammers were riddled with injuries and suspensions over Christmas and New Year, but now only defender Guy Demel (thigh) and midfielder Matt Taylor (calf) remain in the treatment room. Boss Sam Allardyce rested his key men in the FA Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend so goalkeeper Rob Green, defender James Tomkins, skipper Kevin Nolan, fellow midfielder Mark Noble and striker Carlton Cole are all set to return to the starting line-up. Youngsters Dan Potts and Robert Hall played in the Youth Cup win over Brighton on Wednesday night but could still be involved. Winger Gary O'Neil and striker Frederic Piquionne will hope to figure against their former club.
Crystal Palace v Leeds United
Crystal Palace will check on Nathaniel Clyne ahead of the visit of Leeds. The right-back was ruled out of Tuesday night's Carling Cup semi-final first-leg win over Cardiff with the virus which swept through the club last week. Skipper Paddy McCarthy and midfielder Mile Jedinak climbed off their sick beds to play and their fitness will also be assessed after boss Dougie Freedman admitted they were "out on their feet" afterwards. On-loan Doncaster defender Mustapha Dumbuya returns after he was cup-tied while John Egan, David Wright, Owen Garvan and Jermaine Easter will be in contention if Freedman makes changes. Left-back Dean Moxey is still missing with a knee injury and joins long-termers Jonathan Williams (broken leg), Alex Marrow (ankle) and Lee Hills (knee) on the sidelines.
Leeds winger Robert Snodgrass could make an unexpected return to action at Crystal Palace. The 24-year-old had an appendix operation between Christmas and the new year and has missed the last three games against Barnsley, Burnley and Arsenal. But Snodgrass returned to full training this week and manager Simon Grayson has not ruled out a surprise return at Selhurst Park for the Scotland international. Latest signing Robbie Rogers will not be involved as the club are seeking special dispensation for a work permit and skipper Jonny Howson, striker Davide Somma (both knee) and Lee Bromby (calf) remain sidelined. Grayson has no new injury or suspension problems, but faces several selection dilemmas, with teenage defender Zac Thompson hoping to keep his place after an accomplished display in the FA Cup defeat at Arsenal. Finland international midfielder Mika Vayrynen is hoping to retain his place, as is striker Ramon Nunez after the pair were both recalled at the Emirates Stadium.
Watford v Reading (17:20)
Watford welcome back Scott Loach for the visit of Reading on Saturday evening. The goalkeeper missed last weekend's 4-2 FA Cup victory over Bradford due to a one-match suspension, with 18-year-old Jonathan Bond coming in to make his full debut for the Hornets. But Loach is expected to regain the gloves against the Royals at Vicarage Road, 5.20pm kick-off. Craig Forsyth replaced departed loan winger Michael Kightly to make his first start since early November and duly bagged a brace, meaning he is set to keep his place on the left of midfield. Nyron Nosworthy has this week turned his loan stay into a permanent move and will continue in defence, but long-term absentees Martin Taylor (dislocated collarbone) and Stephen McGinn (knee) are not yet ready despite returning to training.
Reading manager Brian McDermott is sweating over the fitness of a whole host of players ahead of the npower Championship trip to Watford. McDermott could be without captain Jobi McAnuff (groin), midfielder Mikele Leigertwood (thigh) and striker Noel Hunt (ankle), all of whom are doubts for the weekend. The same applies to defender Andy Griffin, who has missed the Royals' last two matches with an Achilles injury, while frontman Mathieu Manset has been ruled out of the visit to the Hornets with a knee problem. Diminutive midfielder Jay Tabb, who was substituted with a minor knock during the 1-0 home defeat to Stevenage in the third round of the FA Cup last Saturday, should be fit to feature for McDermott while Jem Karacan is in line for a recall after being left out against Boro. Winger Jimmy Kebe should be available to McDermott following a knee complaint but new signing Karl Sheppard has not played since December 15 and is not yet fully match-fit.