Friday night’s Championship game is undoubtedly the most eye-catching as Middlesbrough welcome Hull to the Riverside in a top-of-the-table clash.
Boro head coach Aitor Karanka will be back in the dugout for this evening’s clash after putting his differences with the club behind him, and will be hoping to put an end to their losing streak which currently stands at two games after last Sunday’s two 2-0 defeat to strugglers Charlton.
Their visitors this time around, Hull, are looking to end a bad run of form themselves – Steve Bruce’s side have won one of their last five games, and have drawn their last two. Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest meant that the Tigers now sit four points off the top two, having been at the summit last month.
League leaders Burnley welcome Wolves to Turf Moor this Saturday after a resounding 3-1 victory at Huddersfield left them six points clear of the chasing pack. Sean Dyche’s side have won their last six on the bounce and are now the bookies’ favourites to win promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
Wolves’ 0-0 derby draw with Midlands neighbours Birmingham last Sunday has halted their play-off charge, but they will know that a win against the team at the top will show that they should not be written off just yet.
MK Dons, who now sit only one point clear of the drop zone following their 1-1 draw with Hull on Tuesday night, will be hoping to distance themselves from the bottom three this weekend – but it does not get any easier for Karl Robinson’s side, as they welcome second-placed Brighton to Buckinghamshire.
If the away side win, it could cement their place in the top two depending on Middlesbrough’s result on Friday night, after Albion beat Reading 1-0 on Tuesday. Seagulls supporters have only tasted defeat five times this season, compared to the Dons’ 18 losses.
One of the stand out ties of the weekend comes at the iPro Stadium as automatic promotion hopefuls Derby County host Nottingham Forest in the East Midlands derby.
The Reds sacked Dougie Freedman last weekend following a run of five defeats in six matches, while the Rams, who are fifth, appointed Harry Redknapp as a football advisor to help interim manager Darren Wassall, whose team threw away a three-goal lead too draw 3-3 at Neil Warnock’s Rotherham last Saturday.
At the foot of the table, Charlton’s survival hopes received a much-needed boost last weekend, as they beat title contenders Middlesbrough 2-0 at the Valley. The Addicks, now unbeaten in three, visit Hillsborough this weekend to take on Sheffield Wednesday knowing a win could take them to within two points of safety.
Wednesday, who won 3-0 in a tough away assignment to Nottingham Forest last weekend, occupy the last of the play-off spot – but sit only a point clear of Cardiff City, meaning a win is vital if they are to create any breathing space in the top six.
Another battle at the bottom of the division takes place in the West Country, as Bristol City take on Bolton with both sides knowing that three points are the minimum requirement at this stage of the season.
The Trotters, now managed by Academy coach Jimmy Phillips for the rest of the season after Neil Lennon’s departure in midweek, desperately need a win if they are to arrest a poor run of form including their 2-1 home defeat to Preston last weekend.
For City, a win would see them accelerate clear of the drop zone after Lee Tomlin’s last-minute winner was enough to beat fellow strugglers Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage last time out.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Birmingham’s play-off push continues against Fulham, Ipswich will attempt to heap more pressure on struggling Rotherham, and Brentford host Blackburn in a bottom half of the table battle.
Leeds take on Huddersfield in a feisty West Yorkshire derby, Preston welcome QPR to Deepdale in a mid-table scrap, and Cardiff travel east along the M4 to face Reading.
Middlesbrough vs Hull (7:45pm)
Saturday (3pm unless stated)
Derby vs Nottingham Forest (12:30pm)
Birmingham City vs Fulham
Brentford vs Blackburn Rovers
Bristol City vs Bolton Wanderers
Burnley vs Wolves
Ipswich Town vs Rotherham United
Leeds United vs Huddersfield Town
MK Dons vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Preston North End vs Queens Park Rangers
Reading vs Cardiff City
Sheffield Wednesday vs Charlton Athletic