Boxing Day Championship News
Middlesboro v Burnley – 3.00p.m.
Surprise package, Burnley top the Championship going into the Boxing Day fixtures.
Having embarked on a run of three matches without a win, the Clarets travel to Middlesbrough following a sequence of results that has seen them collect seven points from a possible nine.
What’s more, Dyche has no fresh injury or suspension concerns for the match at the Riverside, with the only absentee being Ross Wallace because of a knee complaint.Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka faces a series of late selection decisions as he prepares his team for the Boxing Day clash with Sky Bet Championship leaders Burnley.
Striker Muzzy Carayol limped out of Saturday’s 2-0 win at Millwall with a groin strain and will be assessed while Jonathan Woodgate, who missed the trip to the Den with a thigh injury, is in a similar situation, as is midfielder Grant Leadbitter, who sat out at the weekend because of illness.
Defender Rhys Williams was also unavailable with a sore groin and he, like full-backs Frazer Richardson, who has an ankle problem, and Andy Halliday, who is recovering from minor hernia surgery, is being monitored.
However, striker Kei Kamara (medial ligament) and keeper Jason Steele (ankle) are expected to be out of action until the new year, while full-back Stuart Parnaby, who is nursing a knee injury, is currently away from the club on compassionate leave.
Huddersfield Town v Derby County – 3.00pm
Derby County manager Steve McClaren is determined to keep his players’ feet on the ground even though they have won their last seven matches.
The Rams are now 5/1 to win the Championship outright after beating Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, with Jamie Ward, Simon Dawkins and Craig Bryson all on the scoresheet.
They face Huddersfield Town on Boxing Day in a match they can be backed at 25/1 to win 3-2.
McClaren said: “I don’t want to dampen expectations. I want there to be a buzz because that’s what fans want but, in the dressing room and the training ground, it’s business as normal.
“As long as we stay that way and keep our feet on the ground we can continue winning, but the time we get sloppy and think we’ve made it, this game has a habit of cutting your legs off.”
Leaky Huddersfield welcome one of the in form sides across Europe, Steve McLaren’s Derby County. The Terriers have conceded at least one goal in nine of their ten games they have played at home and they could be on the wrong end of a fair few more on Boxing Day. At the John Smith’s Stadium, six of their last seven ties have seen both teams score which looks great for our bet. I cannot see Huddersfield posing County too many problems but i do see them scoring as they have done so often this season.
Derby will be stopped at some point but we cannot see it happening here. Seven games in a row have been won now which is just incredible and added to the fact the Rams have the best away record in the division having won seven of their ten matches, it looks like this game is ending one way. 15 goals in five games shows goals are not being found hard to come by and this could easily be 3-1 or 4-1.
Leicester City v Reading – 3.00p.m.
The only change to the Leicester squad for the visit of Reading will see Martyn Waghorn added to manager Nigel Pearson’s options.
Waghorn is back in the Foxes’ ranks after the striker returned from his loan spell at Championship rivals Millwall.
There are no new injury or suspension problems following the 1-0 victory over QPR, so strikers Chris Wood (hamstring) and Tom Hopper (shin) and defender Sean St. Ledger (groin) continue on the sidelines.
Defenders Ignasi Miquel and Marcin Wasilewski, midfielders Dean Hammond and Andy King and strikers Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Jeff Schlupp all started on the bench at Loftus Road on Saturday and are options should Pearson wish to make any changes to his starting line-up.
Reading, meanwhile, have no new injury concerns ahead of the trip to Leicester. Nigel Adkins is short on options should he wish to make changes following Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by Wigan.
Midfielder Chris Baird hopes to overcome a sprained ankle but the Royals still have a host of players in the treatment room.
Defenders Wayne Bridge and Sean Morrison (both knee), midfielders Jem Karacan (cruciate) and Mikele Leigertwood (ankle) and striker Jason Roberts (hip) are all still on the sidelines.
Notts Forest v QPR
Nottingham Forest will be without the suspended Darius Henderson when QPR visit the City Ground on Boxing Day (7.30pm).
Henderson was shown a straight red card late on in the goalless draw at Birmingham on Saturday following a tangle with Blues skipper Paul Robinson, meaning the burly striker will begin a three-match ban on Boxing Day.
Dan Harding came off at half-time at St Andrew’s, replaced by Eric Lichaj, so it remains to be seen whether he will keep his place in the team for the evening kick-off against Harry Redknapp’s men.
Lichaj, along with Nathaniel Chalobah, Gonzalo Jara Reyes, Jamie Paterson and Matt Derbyshire are options for Reds boss Billy Davies should he wish to make any changes to his starting line-up. Centre-half Danny Collins is nearing a return from the ankle injury that has kept him out for the past two months.
QPR, meanwhile, will be without Joey Barton when they head to Nottingham Forest.
The controversial midfielder was sent off towards the end of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Leicester – the eighth red card of his career – and serves a one-match ban.
Karl Henry could replace Barton in the centre while Yossi Benayoun is pushing for a full debut after coming on as a second-half substitute against the Foxes.
Boss Harry Redknapp could make further changes following their first home defeat of the season but he is still without long-term casualties Alejandro Faurlin (cruciate) and Bobby Zamora (knee).