Team news: Bednar back for Blackpool
All the team news ahead of the weekend's Championship fixtures.
Blackpool v Hull
Blackpool manager Ian Holloway will have one striker back. News that ex-Liverpool and England forward Robbie Fowler is training with the Seasiders with a view to a permanent move has dominated the build-up to Friday's vital Championship clash. Fowler will not be available to face the Tigers as he was not registered before Thursday's noon cut-off point, but Holloway can once again call upon Roman Bednar after the on-loan West Brom frontman recovered from the dead-leg that stopped him featuring in Saturday's 3-1 win at Bristol City. Centre-back Craig Cathcart and winger Matt Phillips are major doubts due to the hamstring problems that prevented them from representing Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively in midweek. The game comes too soon for Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who is continuing his recovery from bone bruising in his knee.
Hull expect their four midweek internationals Cameron Stewart, Corry Evans, Peter Gulacsi and Tom Cairney to be in contention. Stewart did not feature for England Under-21s in their Euro qualifying win over Belgium, Evans played the opening half of Northern Ireland's friendly defeat to Norway, Gulacsi played the first 45 minutes for Hungary against Malta and Cairney played 68 minutes of Scotland Under-21s' goalless draw with Holland. Manager Nick Barmby, who has no new injury or suspension worries, could include midfielder Seyi Olofinjana in the squad. Olofinjana has not appeared for the Tigers since the goalless home draw with Doncaster at the end of January.
SATURDAY (3pm unless stated)
Barnsley v Nottingham Forest
Barnsley manager Keith Hill will select his starting line-up from an unchanged squad. Hill has no new injury or suspension worries, but will again be without winger Jim O'Brien, struggling with a recurrence of a long-term groin injury, midfielder David Perkins (hamstring) and defender Bobby Hassell (knee). Korey Smith, on loan from Norwich, will continue in midfield after both clubs agreed to extend his stay at Oakwell this week, and teenager Paul Digby is hoping to be involved again. The 17-year-old midfielder made his first-team debut in the recent home defeat to Birmingham and travelled with the squad to Coventry last week, but did not make the substitutes' bench.
Danny Higginbotham is an injury concern. The experienced defender, who is on loan from Stoke, limped out of the Reds' 2-1 victory at Birmingham last weekend with a hamstring problem. The club have not revealed the severity of the injury but the 33-year-old must be regarded as a doubt for the game in south Yorkshire. Manager Steve Cotterill will hope that goalkeeper Lee Camp (Northern Ireland), defender Chris Gunter (Wales), midfielder Adlene Guedioura (Algeria) and striker Dexter Blackstock (Antigua and Barbuda) return unscathed from international duty. Defender Brendan Moloney (thigh), midfielder Radoslaw Majewski and forwards David McGoldrick, Ishmael Miller (hamstring), Marlon Harewood (hamstring) and Matt Derbyshire remain unavailable.
Birmingham City v Derby County
Keith Fahey will be assessed. The midfielder, nursing a groin strain, withdrew from the Republic of Ireland squad before Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Czech Republic. He has not trained since but there is a chance he could be passed fit for the clash at St Andrew's as City look to get back on track following last weekend's shock 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest. Midfielder Guirane N'Daw has now fully overcome his hamstring complaint and is fit for selection while striker Nikola Zigic made his return from a knee injury against Forest. That leaves skipper Stephen Carr (knee) as the only definite absentee.
Jamie Ward is an injury concern. Ward suffered a thigh strain on Monday while training with the Northern Ireland squad and had to pull out of their international friendly against Norway. The forward underwent a scan on Wednesday and he is a major doubt. Derby continue to nurse Craig Bryson's Achilles problem. The midfielder played 81 minutes of the home defeat to Leicester eight days ago after being forced off at half-time against Reading and subsequently missing the game at Southampton. Bryson has trained this week and manager Nigel Clough is hopeful the Scot will be fit enough to play. John Brayford's thigh injury has left the Rams without a specialist right-back, with midfielder Paul Green filling in for three of the last four matches.
Crystal Palace v Peterborough United
Crystal Palace will be without Nathaniel Clyne. The defender missed last Saturday's goalless draw at West Ham with a knee knock and although the problem is not serious he has been ruled out this weekend. On-loan Hull centre-half Paul McShane is set to deputise at right-back again in Clyne's absence. Left-back Dean Moxey is back in training after three months out with a knee injury but remains doubtful after an illness put his comeback on hold last week. Midfielders Jonathan Williams (broken leg) and David Wright (calf) are still building up their fitness after injury lay-offs but boss Dougie Freedman has no new worries. Glenn Murray and Sean Scannell are pushing for recalls after coming off the bench at West Ham.
Peterborough have defensive problems. Paul Alcock missed the 1-1 draw at Doncaster last weekend because of a hamstring injury and the full-back is unlikely to return to the squad for the game in south east London. Ryan Bennett played his final game for the club at the Keepmoat Stadium. The England Under-21 international has now linked up with Norwich after remaining on loan with Posh for the first month of his transfer to the Premier League club. Gabby Zakuani is still nursing a broken toe and the club will continue to assess the centre-half on a match-by-match basis. Striker Tyrone Barnett will be hoping for his first start after marking his Peterborough debut with the equalising goal against Doncaster.
Doncaster Rovers v Brighton
James Coppinger has given a fitness boost to Doncaster. Coppinger last featured when he suffered a broken cheekbone in January's defeat at Bristol City, but the 31-year-old winger is in contention to face the Seagulls. Carl Ikeme is poised for his second Doncaster debut between the posts after rejoining on loan from Wolves. Ikeme - whose initial stay with Rovers was cut short by injury earlier this term - will replace David Button after the Tottenham youngster played the final game of his own loan spell in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Peterborough. Saunders has no new injury problems, though, despite his side heading into the game six points from safety at the foot of the Championship.
Brighton have no new injury worries for the trip to Doncaster. But manager Gus Poyet says he will assess the fitness of strike duo Craig Mackail-Smith and Sam Vokes after they returned from international duty on Wednesday night. Mackail-Smith played just over an hour of Scotland's 1-1 draw in Slovenia and Vokes came on for the final 22 minutes of Wales' 1-0 defeat by Costa Rica. Full-back Marcos Painter is still on the sidelines with a hamstring problem while fellow defender Tommy Elphick (Achilles) and midfielder Gary Dicker (broken leg) are continuing their recovery from long-term injuries. Young goalkeeper Mitch Walker has completed a move to Sussex neighbours Eastbourne on loan until the end of the season.
Ipswich Town v Bristol City
Tommy Smith is Ipswich's only concern ahead. The centre-back has only just resumed training having represented New Zealand in Tuesday's 3-2 friendly defeat to Jamaica in Auckland. Manager Paul Jewell will now assess Smith to see whether he is showing any signs of fatigue after a demanding week of travel. Ibrahima Sonko is ready to step in if required. Josh Carson was an unused substitute in Northern Ireland's 3-0 home defeat to Norway and is back pushing to be included in Town's matchday 16 at Portman Road. As is fellow midfielder Lee Bowyer, who is fit again after a groin problem which has ruled him out since the start of January.
Bristol City manager Derek McInnes will have to deal with a plethora of injury worries. McInnes will definitely be without midfielder Marvin Elliott, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an Achilles injury, and striker David Clarkson (broken ankle). Defender Cole Skuse will also be unavailable as he continues his recovery from a broken and dislocated toe, and there are further doubts over three more senior first-team professionals. Midfielder Kalifa Cisse missed the 3-1 home defeat to Blackpool last time out with a groin problem and is unlikely to feature, while on-loan defender Stephen McManus is struggling with a thigh complaint. And to complete McInnes' casualty list, Welsh international Lewin Nyatanga may not have shaken off his ankle knock in time for the trip to Portman Road.
Leicester City v Coventry City
Jeff Schlupp could return to the Leicester squad. He has been sidelined for almost two months after suffering a knee injury at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. The teenage striker made a successful comeback in the reserves in midweek and might force his way on to the bench on Saturday with Nathan Delfouneso back at Aston Villa and Martyn Waghorn and Darius Vassell still out injured. Midfielder Neil Danns is expected to be available, despite suffering from a bout of conjunctivitis. Defender Lee Peltier is also likely to recover from the knock he sustained during the victory at Derby eight days ago. Forward Paul Gallacher has an outside chance of being involved after missing the last two matches with a hamstring injury.
Cody McDonald is fit for Coventry. The striker has only recently returned from a knee injury, taking his place on the bench for last weekend's 1-0 win over Barnsley, but turned his ankle in training at the start of this week and was unable to get crucial game time for the reserves. Skipper Sammy Clingan joined McDonald among the substitutes against the Tykes upon his comeback from a groin problem and, having featured for Northern Ireland in midweek, is pushing to start. Unlike McDonald, fellow returning trio Chris Hussey, Nathan Cameron and Conor Thomas were able to get vital match practice in Tuesday's reserve defeat at Birmingham, although forward Freddy Eastwood was left nursing a tight hamstring and will be assessed. Defenders Richard Wood (knee) and Hermann Hreidarsson (shoulder) remain sidelined.
Millwall v Reading
Liam Trotter is a doubt for Millwall. The midfielder has a minor thigh problem which kept him out of last weekend's 3-1 win at Burnley. Josh Wright is therefore set to keep his place in the centre following his wonder strike at Turf Moor. Defender Jack Smith also missed out against the Clarets but he has resumed training this week and should return to the squad. Smith came off worse in a clash of heads with fellow full-back Alan Dunne in training late last week and needed stitches in his mouth and on his chin. Tottenham loanee Ryan Mason has shaken off a knock but winger Hamer Bouazza could be rested after a long trip to Gambia with the Algeria squad.
Reading manager Brian McDermott has no new injury or suspension worries. Full-back Shaun Cummings has got over the illness which kept him out of the 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough last time out and is available to McDermott, although he will have to oust Matthew Connolly to start at the New Den. The Royals will assess the fitness of midfielder Jem Karacan and centre-back Kaspars Gorkss following their return from international duty with Turkey and Latvia respectively. The duo did not train on Thursday after travelling abroad to play for their countries in midweek, so the pair will be looked at by the club's medical staff ahead of the clash with the Lions.
Portsmouth v Middlesbrough
Portsmouth skipper Liam Lawrence could return. The midfielder has missed the last two matches with a calf injury but hopes to be fit in time. Boss Michael Appleton also welcomes back Dave Kitson from a one-match ban while fellow striker Luke Varney is nearing a return after almost three months out with a knee injury. Midfielder David Norris came on as a late substitute against Leeds last week after recovering from a double hernia operation so he could return to the starting line-up. But veteran striker Kanu is still not fit due to a back problem and winger Kelvin Etuhu is set to miss out again with a slight hamstring tear.
Loan signing Adam Hammill will go straight into the squad. The 24-year-old Wolves midfielder joined the Teessiders until the end of the season on Thursday as manager Tony Mowbray attempted to bolster his squad ahead of a final promotion push. Mowbray will also be boosted by the return of Scotland international midfielder Kevin Thomson, who missed last week's 2-0 home defeat by Reading through suspension after being sent off for the second time this season at Millwall on February 21. Midfielder Nicky Bailey is rapidly approaching full fitness after recovering from a medial ligament injury and could make the squad, while goalkeeper Danny Coyne's calf problem will be assessed ahead of the game.
Watford v Burnley
Watford welcome back Sean Murray and Lee Hodson. Midfielder Murray has missed the back-to-back defeats against Crystal Palace and Southampton with a thigh injury but is expected to go straight back into Sean Dyche's starting XI. Right-back Hodson failed to shrug off an illness in time to feature against Saints last weekend but has now recovered, coming off the bench for Northern Ireland on Wednesday in their 3-0 home friendly defeat to Norway. Midfielder Ross Jenkins, who has been on the periphery of late, is a doubt with a groin problem. Fellow midfielder Stephen McGinn (knee) made his long-awaited comeback for Watford's reserves on Tuesday but is still not ready for first-team action, and defender Martin Taylor remains sidelined with his broken toe.
Burnley are hoping to have captain Chris McCann available. McCann limped off shortly before half-time during last weekend's 3-1 defeat to Millwall with a hamstring complaint, but Clarets assistant manager Jason Tindall revealed the midfielder has benefited from both being cautious over the problem and working hard with the club's physios. McCann could be joined in midfield by Dean Marney, who was absent against Millwall after his wife gave birth to their first son hours before kick-off.
Leeds United v Southampton (5.20pm)
Leeds will be without defender Alex Bruce. Bruce, recalled to the side for the last two matches by new boss Neil Warnock, could be sidelined for several weeks due to a hamstring injury sustained early in last week's draw at Portsmouth. Leigh Bromby replaced Bruce at Fratton Park and is expected to continue, while central defender Darren O'Dea has returned unscathed following international duty with the Republic of Ireland. Leeds' other midweek international, Robert Snodgrass, played the last half an hour of Scotland's draw in Slovenia and Warnock expects his skipper to lead the side. Midfielder Mika Vayrynen is unavailable after undergoing groin surgery and latest signing Danny Webber is not expected to be involved as he is short of match fitness following his release from Portsmouth in the summer.
Southampton hope top scorer Rickie Lambert will be fit. The 23-goal striker hobbled off with an ankle knock after scoring a hat-trick in the 3-0 win at Watford last weekend. Midfielder Adam Lallana also needs a late check after suffering a groin injury in the first half at Vicarage Road. Right-back Frazer Richardson remains a doubt with a thigh problem but Brazilian midfielder Guly do Prado could return after illness ruled him out of the last two games. Tadanari Lee was on international duty in Japan on Wednesday so Billy Sharp is set to replace him up front. Captain Dean Hammond, Jason Puncheon and Dan Harding are also pushing for recalls to the starting line-up.
Cardiff City v West Ham United
Cardiff manager Malky Mackay hopes to have the vast majority of his squad available. However, Mackay will have to wait to find out if any of the eight members of his side who went off on international duty during the week - including first-team regulars Kenny Miller, Aron Gunnarsson and Don Cowie - sustained knocks.
Kevin Nolan returns to the West Ham squad. Nolan has completed a three-match ban for his sending-off in the derby win over Millwall last month. Boss Sam Allardyce is expected to reinstate his captain in the starting line-up despite the Hammers' creditable displays without him. Fellow midfielder Matt Taylor serves the final game of a three-match ban for his red card in the draw with Southampton. Striker Carlton Cole could return to the starting line-up after dropping to the bench for the first half of last weekend's goalless draw against Crystal Palace. Defender Winston Reid will be assessed after suffering a head injury playing for New Zealand, midfielder Papa Bouba Diop is still out with hamstring trouble and forward John Carew is struggling with a knee problem.