Championship - Team news: Sharp set for full debut
All the team news ahead of the weekend's Championship fixtures.
SATURDAY (all kick-offs 3pm unless stated)
Barnsley defender Scott Golbourne could be handed his first start. The 23-year-old former Exeter defender, equally comfortable on the left side of midfield, signed a permanent deal with the Tykes last week and scored their only goal after stepping off the substitutes' bench in the defeat at Watford. Manager Keith Hill has no new injury or suspension worries but another recent signing, midfielder Stephen Dawson, must wait a while longer for his debut following his move from Leyton Orient as he is still struggling with an ankle injury. Michael Tonge will look to improve his match fitness following his recent arrival on loan from Stoke. He is expected to start again alongside fellow midfielder Korey Smith, with Hill poised to select his starting line-up from an unchanged squad.
Nikola Zigic and Guirane N'Daw are set for fitness tests but Marlon King is expected to be fit. Zigic missed both last weekend's goalless draw against Southampton and Tuesday's 1-0 win over Portsmouth with a knee injury sustained against Leeds at Elland Road, and the towering Serbian striker will again be assessed. N'Daw, meanwhile, was forced off after just 13 minutes of the midweek win over Pompey nursing a hamstring niggle, with the midfielder having only recently returned from the African Nations Cup to be involved immediately with City.
Leicester will have in-form striker Jermaine Beckford available. Beckford had scored six goals in his last four matches prior to being controversially sent off early in the second half of the defeat to Brighton last weekend. The Foxes appealed against the straight red card and the three-match suspension was overturned. Neil Danns was also dismissed against Albion but the midfielder will serve his one-match ban. Defender Paul Konchesky had to be substituted at Brighton after sustaining a knock but he trained on Thursday. Midfielder Andy King (foot), strikers Martyn Waghorn (hamstring), Darius Vassell and Jeffery Schlupp (both knee) remain out while defenders Sol Bamba and John Pantsil are still away at the African Nations Cup.
Cardiff manager Malky Mackay will be hoping to be able to call on Mark Hudson and Filip Kiss. Hudson has not featured for the Bluebirds since the 3-2 victory over Portsmouth on January 21 because of a calf strain, while Kiss missed last week's 3-1 home defeat to Blackpool. Darcy Blake is also pushing for a recall to the defence after last weekend's disappointment at the hands of Blackpool, while Kadeem Harris - signed from Wycombe in the January transfer window - could make his first appearance for the club after failing to come off the bench last time out. Full-back Kevin McNaughton is likely to keep his place in defence despite being withdrawn against Blackpool with a tight muscle.
Nottingham Forest v Watford
Nottingham Forest are set to give debuts to three loans signings. George Elokobi arrived from Wolves for the remainder of the season on Thursday and he looks likely to make his Reds bow along with fellow defenders Danny Higginbotham and Scott Wootton. Higginbotham and Wootton, signed at the end of last month from Stoke and Manchester United respectively, were in line to make their first appearances for the club against east midlands rivals Derby on Sunday but that game was postponed because of the snow. Full-backs Brendan Moloney (thigh) and Greg Cunningham (hamstring) are still not fit.
Watford boss Sean Dyche is likely to stick with an unchanged XI for the third successive match. The Hornets have not managed three consecutive victories for over a year, last season's winter surge of seven wins on the trot under former boss Malky Mackay the last time the Hertfordshire club experienced such a run. Midfielder Stephen McGinn has resumed light training as he continue his lengthy recovery from a knee injury but remains some way off, while fellow long-term absentee Martin Taylor (broken toe) also remains sidelined.
Reading have high hopes that Jimmy Kebe and Mikele Leigertwood will be available. Winger Kebe has not featured for the Royals since the 2-1 victory at Watford on January 14 because of a knee injury but is expected to be available to manager Brian McDermott against the struggling Sky Blues on Saturday. And midfielder Leigertwood is also set for a return to the first-team frame after sitting out the last three Royals clashes because of a thigh problem. Otherwise, McDermott has no new injury or suspension problems to contend with as he looks to guide the Berkshire outfit back into the play-off places with a win, providing results elsewhere go in their favour.
Coventry continue to be without at least six players. Defenders Hermann Hreidarsson (shoulder), Chris Hussey (ankle), Nathan Cameron (knee) and Cyrus Christie (knock) as well as midfielder Conor Thomas (abductor) and striker Cody McDonald (knee) each missed last weekend's heartbreaking 3-2 defeat at home to Ipswich. And they are all set to sit out once again at the Madejski Stadium as struggling City face an uphill task in their bid to record a long-awaited first away win of the season. On-loan Manchester United midfielder Oliver Norwood is expected to come in for his full Sky Blues debut having stepped off the bench as a second-half substitute against Town following his arrival on deadline day.
Paul Robinson and Andy Keogh are back in the Millwall squad. Skipper Robinson is fit after three weeks out with a thigh injury and should step in at centre-half, while striker Keogh was ineligible for Tuesday's FA Cup replay win at Southampton. Dany N'Guessan started in attack against Saints but limped off with a calf injury after scoring their equaliser and will need a late fitness test. Defender Shane Lowry, midfielder Jimmy Abdou and striker Darius Henderson all sat out at St Mary's and could return but full-back Jordan Stewart (groin) and midfield duo Tamika Mkandawire (knee) and Therry Racon (ankle) are still out. Young midfielder Jake Gallagher has joined non-league Staines Town on loan.
Derby's leading scorer Theo Robinson will not be involved against his former club. Robinson, signed on a permanent deal from the Lions last summer following a successful loan spell at Pride Park, has still not recovered from the calf injury that has forced him to miss the last two matches. Fellow strikers Nathan Tyson, Callum Ball and Ryan Noble are in the squad that will travel to London. Meanwhile, Steven Davies is pushing for a place in the squad following his skull fracture in mid-October.
Southampton v Burnley
Danny Fox and Billy Sharp return to the Southampton squad. Former Clarets full-back Fox missed Tuesday's 3-2 FA Cup replay defeat by Millwall through suspension and striker Sharp was ineligible. Sharp could be handed his full debut in attack having made one substitute appearance since his January switch from Doncaster. Defender Jos Hooiveld is set to miss out again with a hamstring problem but boss Nigel Adkins has an otherwise fully-fit squad. Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis and midfielders Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin were rested in midweek and return along with top scorer Rickie Lambert, who came on as a substitute. Tottenham loanee Iago Falque could also be added to the squad after he was cup-tied.
Burnley have no new injury worries. Boss Eddie Howe remains without forward Martin Paterson and winger Junior Stanislas as the duo continue their rehabilitation from hamstring injuries sustained during the 2-0 triumph at Middlesbrough last month. Ross Wallace and Keith Treacy both played a part in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Peterborough to dismiss any lingering concerns that recent back problems would continue to hinder them. Danny Lafferty is continuing to build his match fitness after joining from Derry City during the January transfer window and the left-back will not be considered for selection.
Leeds United v Brighton and Hove Albion
Leeds caretaker manager Neil Redfearn has no new injury or suspension worries. Redfearn, who made a winning start as temporary boss last week at Bristol City, has three more games to convince chairman Ken Bates he is the right choice to succeed Simon Grayson on a permanent basis.
Brighton will be without Matt Sparrow. Midfielder Sparrow starts a three-match ban after he was sent off during the 1-0 win over Leicester last Saturday. Defender Tommy Elphick remains a long-term absentee with an Achilles injury and midfielder Gary Dicker has only just resumed light training after a fractured fibula. But the injuries which have plagued Brighton over the past couple of months have otherwise cleared up. Full-back Gonzalo Jara Reyes missed out against Leicester with a slight groin problem and could make his second Seagulls debut after rejoining from West Brom, while wingers Craig Noone and Kazenga LuaLua have shaken off hamstring injuries.
Lee Bowyer continues to be Ipswich's only absentee. The veteran midfielder has been missing with a groin injury of late but has returned to training this week and is set to be involved in first-team affairs sooner rather than later. Manager Paul Jewell does not have any other injury or suspension concerns heading into the encounter and is set to keep faith with an unchanged line-up for the third successive match.
Midfielders Faris Haroun (hamstring) and Barry Robson (dislocated finger) did not figure in the 2-1 FA Cup fourth round replay defeat by Premier League Sunderland, while striker Marvin Emnes (also hamstring) was used only as a substitute by Boro. All three will be assessed before Tony Mowbray names his team for the game at Portman Road, although Haroun is perhaps the biggest doubt. Goalkeeper Danny Coyne (calf) has already been ruled out, while midfielders Nicky Bailey (knee) and Merouane Zemmama (hernia surgery) are gradually working their way back to fitness.
Hull City v Bristol City
Hull midfielder Seyi Olofinjana is hoping to play a bigger role as Nick Barmby's side look to climb back into the top six. Olofinjana made his first league appearance for the Tigers in nearly a year in their last match, which ended in a goalless draw at home to Doncaster. He has had another seven days to improve his fitness after last week's game at Portsmouth was postponed. Manager Barmby has no new injury or suspension problems, but last week's inactivity saw his side drop out of the play-off places for the first time since early December.
Bristol City manager Derek McInnes will have to deal with an injury and suspension nightmare. McInnes will be without at least four first-team regulars, while doubts linger over another two. The Robins will be stretched in defence, with both James Wilson and Yannick Bolasie serving one-match bans, while Lewin Nyatanga is struggling through an ankle injury. Veteran centre-back Louis Carey will also miss out after picking up a calf problem in training, and the City skipper is expected to be out for up to three weeks. Meanwhile, midfielder Neil Kilkenny is also sidelined because of a hamstring knock sustained during the 3-0 home defeat to Leeds last time out and has been ruled out for 10 days.
Blackpool v Portsmouth (5.20pm)
Keith Southern remains Blackpool's only injury absentee. Southern suffered a badly gashed ankle in the 1-1 FA Cup fourth-round draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Bloomfield Road a fortnight ago. The midfielder is set to have stitches removed from the wound over the coming days, but the clash with Pompey and Tuesday night's trip to Doncaster are expected to come too soon for him. Roman Bednar was ineligible as Wednesday were beaten 3-0 in a replay this week because his loan move from West Brom was completed after the initial tie, but the Czech striker returns to contention for boss Ian Holloway.
Portsmouth have a host of injury worries. Defender Tal Ben Haim is the latest addition to the casualty list after suffering a hamstring injury against Birmingham in midweek. Ben Haim will have a late fitness check along with forwards Benjani and Dave Kitson, who are also carrying hamstring strains but were able to come on as substitutes at St Andrew's. Young defender Adam Webster will also be patched up after having an injection in a toe injury. Midfielder David Norris has completed a three-match ban but has not recovered from the hernia operation he underwent during his enforced break.