Team news: Hulse ready for debut
Team news ahead of Saturday's fixtures, with Rob Hulse set to make his long-awaited debut for QPR.
All matches kick off at 15:00 unless otherwise stated
Cardiff City v Bristol City (12:00)
Craig Bellamy's ongoing knee issues mean Jones may have to use Bellamy sparingly this term; Tuesday's trip to his former club Coventry must also come into play when deciding how much match action he gets against the Robins. Michael Chopra made a goalscoring return for Cardiff's reserves in midweek after more than seven weeks on the sidelines recovering from ankle ligament damage, and he could well play a part in the lunchtime kick-off. But midfielder Danny Drinkwater (thigh) and defender Chris Riggott failed to feature for the second string, suggesting they are not quite ready. Darcy Blake was dismissed at Oakwell a fortnight ago for two yellow card offences and he will now serve a one-match suspension.
Bristol City have no new problems ahead of the Anglo-Welsh clash with rivals Cardiff. Jamie McAllister suffered a cut to the head from a stray ball at the club`s golf day on Wednesday but the defender will be fit to travel. Strikers Nicky Maynard (knee) and Sam Vokes (hamstring) remain out. Wolves striker Vokes resumed his loan spell at Ashton Gate this week following treatment at his parent club but this game comes too soon for the Wales international. Otherwise, boss Keith Millen has a full squad to choose from as his bottom-of-the-table side look for a first league win in five matches.
Scunthorpe United v Doncaster Rovers (12:00)
Scunthorpe have signed Burnley midfielder Kevin McDonald on a month's loan and he could make his debut in the home clash with Doncaster. McDonald, 21, has figured just once for the Clarets so far this season, coming off the bench to score in the Carling Cup win at Morecambe in August. Midfielder Garry Thompson has been nursing a groin injury and may not be risked but Rob Jones is fully fit again after a broken hand. However, defensive colleague Jim McNulty has aggravated an existing ankle injury and looks certain to miss out. Boss Ian Baraclough has also awarded a contract to young trialist Paris Cowan-Hall. The former Portsmouth striker scored for the reserves against Leeds on Tuesday night and could play some part against Rovers.
Doncaster defender Shelton Martis will return to the squad after recovering from a groin strain. Skipper Brian Stock will be included after withdrawing from the Wales squad due to lack of match fitness. Stock has found it hard to break back into O'Driscoll's starting line-up following his latest absence due to a back problem, but will be hoping to play a bigger role. O'Driscoll has no new injury or suspension problems as his side chase a first win in five league matches, but James Chambers and Wayne Thomas remain sidelined with respective knee injuries.
Portsmouth v Watford
Portsmouth will check on Liam Lawrence ahead of the home clash with Watford. The on-loan Stoke winger, who has scored four goals this season, was forced to miss the Republic of Ireland's 1-1 draw with Slovakia on Tuesday night after suffering a leg injury against Russia four days earlier. Hermann Hreidarsson could make his first appearance in the Pompey squad this season. The Iceland defender ruptured his Achilles against Tottenham last March but is on the comeback trail, having been involved with his international squad last week, and could be named on the bench. Striker Danny Webber, who damaged knee ligaments in the same match as Hreidarsson, is another month away from returning. Youngsters Tom Kilbey (knee) and Billy Goddard (shin) are still on the sidelines.
Ross Jenkins is Watford's only injury concern as they head to the south coast. The midfielder has tweaked an ankle in training and is doubtful ahead of the Fratton Park clash, with his fitness being monitored closely. Boss Malky Mackay has an otherwise fully-fit squad at his disposal as the Hornets chase a sixth successive Championship victory. In-form striker Marvin Sordell had to be taken off at half-time of the win at Sheffield United last time out but has recovered.
Reading v Swansea City
Reading are monitoring the fitness of Hal Robson-Kanu ahead of Swansea's visit. Robson-Kanu pulled out of Wales' Euro 2012 qualifier with Switzerland in midweek with a knee problem and faces a race against time to make the clash. Royals boss Brian McDermott has received better news with the return to fitness of Andy Griffin and Jay Tabb, with both playing for the reserves during the week. Tabb has played just 151 minutes for the Royals this season thanks to a foot injury while former Stoke full-back Griffin has missed the last eight matches with a hamstring injury. Matt Mills and Brian Howard are also back in contention after completing recent suspensions. Icelandic midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson will again miss out through a hamstring injury as the Royals look to extend their unbeaten run in the Championship to four games.
Influential Swansea midfield trio Scott Sinclair (hamstring), Darren Pratley (shoulder) and David Cotterill (groin) all missed the club's goalless draw against Derby prior to the international break but they return to the fold against the Royals. Wales captain and centre-back Ashley Williams shrugged off an ankle injury to play 90 minutes against Switzerland in midweek and should be okay. Midfielder Joe Allen (groin) pulled out of Brian Flynn's squad ahead of the nation's 1-0 defeat to Bulgaria last Friday but is expected to pass a fitness test, and he will be assessed along with each of the club's returning internationals. New signing Kemy Agustien is in full training after his knee injury and could push for inclusion, leaving just Gorka Pintado (shoulder) on the sidelines, although the striker has returned to non-contact training.
Sheffield United v Burnley
Sheffield United skipper Chris Morgan is expected to return to the starting line-up for the home clash with Burnley. The central defender has missed the last three games due to a hamstring problem, but came through 45 minutes for the reserves unscathed in midweek and is likely to partner Nyron Nosworthy at the back, with Kyle Bartley still nursing a broken cheekbone. But the Blades will still be without striker Jamie Ward, who sits out the last game of his three-match ban following his recent dismissal at Leeds. Blades boss Gary Speed hopes to have fellow front man Ched Evans back in contention following a groin strain, though, and has no other new injury or suspension problems. Defender Rob Kozluk is still out with a jarred knee and long-term absentees Lee Williamson, Darius Henderson and Ryan France are still out.
Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle is unavailable for the trip to Brammall Lane as he begins a three-match suspension. The Clarets centre-back was dismissed during the recent 1-1 draw at Millwall and could be replaced by Michael Duff or Leon Cort. Both men played just over an hour for the reserves in midweek and boss Brian Laws may also be without Andre Bikey. Bikey sustained a rib injury against Millwall and was replaced after just 14 minutes, but the Cameroon international is still troubled by the injury and a late decision will be made on his fitness. Elsewhere, Dean Marney will hope to keep his place ahead of Graham Alexander in midfield and Kevin McDonald has joined Scunthorpe on a month-long loan deal.
Barnsley v Nottingham Forest
Midfielder Jeronimo Neumann is the only Barnsley doubt due to a groin strain. Defender Kieran Trippier is back at Oakwell fully fit following international duty with England Under-21s and Robins is hoping striker Chris Wood will be ready to resume alongside Garry O'Connor following his return from action with New Zealand. Fellow forward Andy Gray is hoping to return to the starting line-up though, while Goran Lovre, Nathan Doyle, Luke Potter and Jacob Butterfield, who all started on the bench in the Tykes' last match against Cardiff, are all in manager Mark Robins' plans.
Robert Earnshaw remains the only absentee for Nottingham Forest as the Reds resume their Championship campaign at Oakwell. The striker has missed the last three games due to a thigh problem and was also forced to withdraw from the Wales squad for their Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland. Three players staked their claim for a recall to the starting line up with goals for the reserves this week, none more so than Dele Adebola who scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday. Fellow forwards David McGoldrick and Garath McCleary were also on the scoresheet. Defender Kelvin Wilson and wingers Radoslaw Majewski and Nathan Tyson complete the list of players hoping to get back into the team.
Queens Park Rangers v Norwich City
Rob Hulse could make his long-awaited debut for QPR when Norwich arrive at Loftus Road. The striker is pushing to be involved for the first time since his deadline day move from Derby after recovering from an Achilles injury. Boss Neil Warnock is facing further selection dilemmas with a host of players back in contention after the international break. Defenders Bradley Orr (calf) and Fitz Hall, midfielder Alejandro Faurlin and striker Leon Clarke (all hamstring) have all returned to full training. Orr could have a battle to win back his place at right-back with England U21 international Kyle Walker extending his loan spell from Tottenham until January. Peter Ramage and Lee Cook remain long-term absentees with knee injuries.
Norwich defender Adam Drury is available for the game after recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered warming up for the 3-0 win at Bristol City before the international break. It meant a first start for Steven Smith, a summer signing from Rangers, who produced a fine performance at Ashton Gate. Although he picked up a knock towards the end of the game, he is also fit.
Leicester City v Hull City
Sven-Goran Eriksson will begin his reign as Leicester manager against former Foxes boss Nigel Pearson when Hull visit the Walkers Stadium. Kyle Naughton became the Swede`s first signing and the on-loan Tottenham full-back goes straight into the squad, while Aston Villa defender Curtis Davies could also make his debut against the Tigers. However, Eriksson will be without Dany N`Guessan after the forward suffered ankle ligament damage during the club`s mid-season trip to Thailand last week. Defenders Michael Morrison and Miguel Vitor and midfielder Lloyd Dyer also sustained knocks in the Far East but are expected to be fit.
Hull midfielder Jimmy Bullard is doubtful for the trip with a knee injury, and could face a late fitness test. John Bostock and Kevin Kilbane, both unused substitutes in the goalless draw with Coventry last time out, could come into contention for a start if Bullard fails to make it. Bullard's absence could also be tempered by the return to the squad of striker Caleb Folan. Folan has yet to appear for Hull this season due to complications with a dead leg, while summer signing James Harper (foot) will travel with the squad but is not expected to feature.
Ipswich Town v Coventry City
Ipswich will be without on-loan defender Darren O'Dea who underwent knee surgery on a problem that has dogged him since September and he now faces six weeks on the sidelines. Manager Roy Keane has an otherwise fully-fit squad to choose from with Shane O'Connor (hamstring), Damien Delaney and Luciano Civelli (both knee) all using the international break to get back to full fitness. David Norris and Luke Hyam are also back in the squad after they missed the Leeds game a fortnight ago through suspension.
Marlon King will face a late fitness test ahead of Coventry`s trip to Portman Road. The striker is facing a race against time to prove he has fully recovered from the dead leg which ruled him out of the final game before the international break at Hull, and the encounter may well come too soon for him with Aidy Boothroyd unwilling to take any risks with his fitness. Winger Danny Ward will definitely miss out having returned to parent club Bolton to undergo a hernia operation, as will defender James McPake who suffered concussion during a practice match in midweek having taken a blow to the head. But there is expected to be good news for manager Boothroyd in the form of Keiren Westwood, who is likely to battle through the pain barrier to line up at Portman Road. The goalkeeper withdrew from the Republic of Ireland`s squad for their clash with Slovakia on Tuesday having taken a ball to his face from close range, leaving him with an extremely sore jaw. Long-term absentees Freddy Eastwood, David Bell, Chris Hussey, Gary Deegan and Stephen O`Halloran all continue to miss out but are making good progress in the treatment room.
Derby County v Preston North End
Derby's new loan signing Frank Fielding will go straight into the squad for the home clash with Preston. The England Under-21 goalkeeper has been drafted in from Blackburn for an initial month following injury to first-choice Stephen Bywater. Bywater, an ever-present this season until this point, suffered a wrist fracture in training last week and will be out for at least a month. Fielding will vie with Saul Deeney for a place in Nigel Clough's starting line-up. Paul Green, also an ever-present this season, is doubtful after a hamstring problem saw the midfielder substituted during the first half of the Republic of Ireland's draw in Slovakia on Tuesday night. Defenders Russell Anderson (groin) and Gareth Roberts (hamstring) featured for the reserves this week to put themselves in contention for recalls, while on-loan striker Shefki Kuqi comes back into the reckoning after being ineligible to face his parent club Swansea a fortnight ago.
Preston boss Darren Ferguson is set to be boosted by the return of on-loan Manchester United duo Matty James and Josh King for the trip to Pride Park, but Darel Russell is suspended. Midfielder James has recovered from a damaged tendon in his ankle, while King resumed training last week after a month-long absence with an ankle ligament injury. Both players look certain to be passed fit to face the Rams. However, Russell must serve a one-match ban following his red card against Reading last time out. Winger Keith Treacy has been hampered by a groin problem in recent weeks which forced him to pull out of the Republic of Ireland squad, but he should also be available.
Crystal Palace v Millwall
Crystal Palace are light in attack ahead of the south London derby showdown at the New Den. Everton loanee James Vaughan is still suspended while Pablo Counago (hamstring) and Jon Obika (calf) are struggling with injuries. Boss George Burley's attempts to bring in another striker on loan this week came to nothing so 17-year-old Wilfried Zaha and Calvin Andrew, who has scored three goals in two years, are his only options. Burley is also still missing key midfield duo Darren Ambrose (leg) and Neil Danns (knee) as well as full-backs David Wright (calf) and Lee Hills and winger Sean Scannell (both knee). But defenders Adam Barrett (foot), Claude Davis (back) and Anthony Gardner (ankle) are in line to return.
Millwall defender Alan Dunne sits out with a one-match ban while midfielder Liam Trotter serves the last of his three-game suspension. Jack Smith will be in contention to replace Dunne at right-back, but he is struggling with a calf problem so Tamika Mkandawire, who has been playing in midfield in Trotter's absence, could drop back. Preston loanee Darren Carter is fit after an ankle injury and may start in central midfield. Striker Kevin Lisbie missed the 1-1 draw with Burnley a fortnight ago with a knee injury but is available again along with John Marquis (wrist) and Andrew Frampton (ankle).
Middlesbrough v Leeds United (17:20)
Middlesbrough midfielder Barry Robson will sit out the npower Championship clash with Leeds through suspension. Robson begins a three-match ban after being dismissed late in the club's 2-2 home draw with Portsmouth a fortnight ago for elbowing Aaron Mokoena and will miss the games against Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Norwich. Skipper Gary O'Neil has recovered from a tight hamstring but Senegal international Mickael Tavares is battling against a virus. Justin Hoyte is close to returning from a hamstring injury while Kevin Thomson hopes to be available after limping off just five minutes into his return from a fractured fibula against Pompey. Jonathan Franks (herniated disc), Willo Flood (knee), Rhys Williams (pelvis) and Matt Kilgallon (back) remain on the casualty list.
Leeds will be without suspended defender Alex Bruce and goalkeeper Shane Higgs for the clash at the Riverside Stadium. But Simon Grayson's squad could be boosted by the return of several first-team players, with Paul Connolly back in contention following a hamstring injury, while Lloyd Sam, Fede Bessone, Aidy White, Ross McCormack and Leigh Bromby all proved their fitness in the reserves in midweek. Bruce was sent off in the defeat at former club Ipswich last time out and must serve a one-game ban, while Higgs was replaced by on-loan Blackburn goalkeeper Jason Brown after sustaining a hamstring injury. First-choice goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has been sidelined since the end of August with a foot injury and has an outside chance of returning to the bench. Grayson must decide whether to stick with holding midfielder Amdy Faye, who made his debut in the defeat at Ipswich, while Adam Clayton, Max Gradel, Sanchez Watt and Andrew Hughes are all hoping for places in the starting line-up.