Saturday (1500 unless stated)
Barnsley v Leeds United
Barnsley midfielder Jacob Mellis has an outside chance of returning to the squad for the derby clash with Leeds. Mellis, a free summer signing from Chelsea, has missed the last seven games due to a severe dead-leg, but could play some part. Defender Scott Wiseman is not expected to be included despite his proposed move to Blackpool being placed on hold due to the uncertainty over Seasiders manager Michael Appleton's future, while striker Craig Davies this week completed his permanent move to Bolton.
Leeds are, however, expected to include permanent new signing Michael Tonge in their starting line-up in the derby clash at Barnsley. Tonge, who spent three months on loan at Leeds from Stoke at the end of last year, has signed a two-and-a-half year contract after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee for the 29-year-old. Fellow midfielder Paul Green missed last week's FA Cup draw with Birmingham due to the virus which has swept through the club in recent weeks, but manager Neil Warnock will be without an unnamed first-team player on Saturday through illness.
Bolton v Millwall
Dougie Freedman is mulling over whether to hand new signing Craig Davies his Bolton debut against Millwall. Davies completed his move to the Reebok Stadium from Barnsley on Wednesday and Freedman stated he was "touch and go" on whether he would pitch the Wales international striker straight into first-team action. Despite Benik Afobe's hamstring injury, Freedman is relatively well stocked in attack. Club captain Kevin Davies was on the bench for last weekend's 2-2 draw against Sunderland in the FA Cup as Marvin Sordell and David Ngog took the starting berths up front. Stuart Holden and Josh Vela returned from long-term knee injuries to feature for the reserves in midweek but are unlikely to be risked, with next week's replay at the Stadium of Light pencilled in as a more realistic target. David Wheater (knee) is also closing in on a return but the former Middlesbrough man remains on the sidelines with fellow defender Matt Mills (thigh) and midfielder Mark Davies (shoulder).
Martyn Woolford could, meanwhile, make his Millwall debut for the trip to Bolton. Woolford this week joined the Lions from Bristol City for an undisclosed fee on a two-and-a-half year contract. Boss Kenny Jackett swooped for the winger after losing Liam Feeney to a hamstring injury in the FA Cup win over Preston last weekend. Fellow wideman Chris Taylor remains on the sidelines with a knee problem along with striker Andy Keogh, who has a broken toe, and skipper Paul Robinson with a pelvic problem. But full-back Scott Malone could return after a back injury while Jackett can recall former Bolton defender Danny Shittu - who is no longer going to the African Nations Cup with Nigeria - and midfielder Liam Trotter after resting the duo against Preston.
Brighton v Derby County
Brighton will again be without defenders Bruno and Inigo Calderon for the visit of Derby. Bruno (Achilles) and Calderon (knee) are edging closer to fitness but will not be ready in time so midfielder David Lopez will continue to deputise at right-back. Winger Will Buckley was an unused substitute in the FA Cup win over Newcastle last weekend after a hamstring injury and should be involved again. Tomasz Kuszczak will return in goal in place of Casper Ankergren, but otherwise boss Gus Poyet could stick with the side which sank the Magpies for the second year running. Spanish playmaker Vicente has returned to training following a lengthy spell out with a thigh injury but he needs a reserve game first.
Derby are, meanwhile, deciding whether to include Jamie Ward in the squad that travel to Brighton. Ward, who has been struggling with a hamstring injury for the past three months, played for almost an hour in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday afternoon.The diminutive forward suffered no ill-effects and trained on Wednesday. He will do so again on Friday, when manager Nigel Clough will make a decision on his inclusion. Clough will definitely be without Craig Bryson, though, as the midfielder continues to struggle with a knee injury.
Bristol City v Leicester City
Bristol City have received an injury boost ahead of the visit of Leicester to Ashton Gate with striker Sam Baldock declaring himself fully fit. The in-form former MK Dons striker missed their FA Cup defeat to Blackburn last weekend with a knee injury he sustained in training but after making a full recovery he is back in training with his team-mates. But manager Derek McInnes does have a question mark over the fitness of right-back Richard Foster who has missed their last two matches with a slight hamstring tear. He is set for a return to training in the build-up to the clash with Nigel Pearson's side.
Jamie Vardy could, meanwhile, return to the Leicester squad when the Foxes travel to Bristol City. Absent since limping out of the home defeat to Cardiff on December 22 with a heel injury, Vardy got 45 minutes under his belt in a behind-closed-doors friendly this week and has now resumed full training. The striker's fitness is being monitored to see if he is fit enough to be involved at Ashton Gate.
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Burnley expect to be without top scorer Charlie Austin once more when they host Championship high-flyers Crystal Palace. The 23-goal striker has not featured since suffering a hamstring injury in the 1-0 defeat to Leicester at the end of last month and remains very doubtful along with fellow forward Martin Paterson, who has a similar complaint. Chris McCann, another hamstring victim, is pushing for a return but defender Ben Mee (knee) remains on the sidelines.
Crystal Palace will, however, check on Wilfried Zaha and Glenn Murray ahead of the trip to Burnley. Winger Zaha, a transfer target for a host of top clubs this month, limped out of last weekend's FA Cup draw against Stoke after taking a nasty whack on the ankle. Striker Murray, the Championship's top scorer this season with 22 goals, missed the third-round tie through illness.
Cardiff v Ipswich
Cardiff are set to be boosted by the return of three key players from injury as they welcome Ipswich to South Wales on Saturday. Playmaker Peter Whittingham, left-back Andrew Taylor and former QPR attacker Tommy Smith are all available for the visit of the Tractor Boys. There were concerns that Whittingham could be missing for up to four weeks after he picked up a knee injury in the Millwall victory but he will return as the Bluebirds look to cement their seven-point lead at the top of the Championship.
Ipswich, meanwhile, are again without goalkeeper Stephen Henderson as they travel to league leaders Cardiff. The 24-year-old loanee missed the FA Cup third round defeat at Aston Villa with an ankle injury and could be sidelined for a further two weeks. Scott Loach is set to continue in goal as Town aim to become only the second team to avoid defeat in the Welsh capital. Mick McCarthy is boosted by the news that midfielder Andy Drury has recovered from the virus that saw him miss the club's last two games while Bradley Orr is expected to return at right-back after being cup-tied at the weekend.
Charlton v Blackpool
Charlton will be without centre-halves Dorian Dervite and Leon Cort when they host Blackpool. Dervite serves a one-match ban after he was sent off during last weekend's FA Cup defeat by Huddersfield, and Cort is sidelined by a hamstring injury. Matt Taylor, who got a rare outing in the cup, is now set to make his first league start of the season at the back alongside Michael Morrison. Full-back Rhoys Wiggins played for the reserves in midweek after four months out with a foot injury but he will not be rushed back.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher is, meanwhile, an injury doubt as Blackpool prepare to travel to Charlton amid growing uncertainty over the future of manager Michael Appleton. Lancashire neighbours Blackburn made an official approach to speak to Appleton on Wednesday night and the former Portsmouth boss was absent from training on Thursday, with assistant Steve Thompson taking the session. Taylor-Fletcher suffered a back injury during last weekend's draw at Fulham in the third round of the FA Cup and faces a late fitness test.
Huddersfield v Birmingham
Huddersfield's new signing Neil Danns will be included in the squad for the home game with Birmingham. Leicester midfielder Danns signed on loan until the end of the season this week and is expected to feature. Winger Adam Hammill, on loan from Wolves, will also return to contention after being ineligible for last week's FA Cup win at Charlton. But manager Simon Grayson has doubts about the fitness of defenders Joel Lynch (hamstring) and Calum Woods (groin), who has missed the last three matches, winger Danny Ward (knee), sidelined for the last four, plus strikers Jimmy Spencer (hamstring) and Alan Lee (back).
Birmingham's injury problems are, meanwhile, easing as a number of players are hoping to return for the trip to Lee Clark's old club Huddersfield. The Blues boss has Nikola Zigic and Rob Hall available after the duo missed the FA Cup third round draw with Leeds at the weekend. The Serbian striker was suspended while the on-loan winger was refused permission to play in the competition by parent-club West Ham. They could be joined in the squad by defender Paul Caddis (hamstring), strikers Peter Lovenkrands (calf) and Marlon King (knee) and the versatile Jonathan Spector (ankle) who have all returned to training.
Hull City v Sheffield Wednesday (17:20)
High-flying Hull have a clean bill of health as they look to maintain their impressive record in Yorkshire derbies this season when Sheffield Wednesday visit the KC Stadium. Manager Steve Bruce opted to shuffle his pack for the FA Cup clash with Leyton Orient on Saturday, resting several members of his first-choice XI. That allowed the likes of Sone Aluko (calf) and Robert Koren (heel) to rest knocks picked up over the busy festive period. Bruce revealed he had a full house for training on Thursday, with winger Ahmed Elmohamady also returning to contention from a calf problem.
Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Jeremy Helan will, meanwhile, return to contention for the clash at high-flying Hull following suspension. Frenchman Helan, on loan from Manchester City, sat out last week's goalless FA Cup stalemate with MK Dons following his two yellow cards in the recent draw at Huddersfield. But Wednesday will be without fellow midfielder David Prutton, who starts his two-game ban for reaching 10 yellow cards. Manager Dave Jones, who has no other new injury or suspension worries, recalled goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, skipper Martin Taylor and striker Chris Maguire last week and must decide whether to retain them in his starting line-up.
Middlesbrough v Watford
Middlesbrough have been boosted by the return to training of five key players ahead of the visit of Watford. Defenders Andre Bikey, Seb Hines and George Friend (all hamstring) and midfielders Faris Haroun (hamstring) and Emmanuel Ledesma (knee) have all joined in with their team-mates again and will be assessed ahead of Saturday.
Watford, meanwhile, welcome back Manuel Almunia and Almen Abdi for the trip to fellow promotion-chasers Middlesbrough. Goalkeeper Almunia missed the FA Cup defeat at Manchester City due to a slight hamstring problem picked up on New Year's Day against Charlton while Abdi suffered a pelvic injury in the same game. Both have trained and are expected to return to Gianfranco Zola's starting XI to face Boro. But the game is likely to come too soon for Jonathan Hogg and Fitz Hall.
Nottingham Forest v Peterborough
Elliott Ward is expected to go straight back into Nottingham Forest's starting line-up for the visit of Peterborough. Ward has rejoined the Reds on loan from Norwich for the remainder of the season and should replace captain Danny Collins, who must serve a one-match suspension after his red card in the FA Cup defeat to Oldham last weekend. Alex McLeish, looking for his first win as Forest boss against Posh, will also include Chile international defender Gonzalo Jara Reyes in his squad after singing the right-back on loan from West Brom for the remainder of the season.
In-form striker Dwight Gayle comes back into the reckoning for Peterborough when they travel to Nottingham Forest. Gayle, who has scored seven goals in nine appearances for Posh since arriving on loan from Dagenham & Redbridge, was cup-tied for the defeat to Norwich last weekend. Boss Darren Ferguson will also see his squad swelled by the addition of Manchester United pair Scott Wootton and Davide Petrucci.
- Sports & Recreation