Date: 29th April 2016 at 9:35am
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The promotion picture in the Championship is often an interesting one, with automatic spots and play-off places often up for grabs until the last day of the season.

This term, though, positions fourth to sixth look fairly set in stone, but, with just two games remaining, the top three still have all to play for.

Burnley, Middlesbrough and Brighton & Hove Albion are tied at the top on 87 points, with just three goals separating them, knowing that one of the trio will have to suffer the play-offs and a potential Wembley heartbreak.

To add to the drama, Boro and Brighton face each other on the final day in a crucial decider.

Now, ahead of their penultimate fixtures, we’ve analysed the three teams’ chances of promotion…

Burnley

25th April 2015 - Barclays Premier League - Burnley v Leicester City - Burnley manger Sean Dyche - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Sean Dacha’s Burnley are in pole position for an immediate return to the Premier League. Photo: Simon Stacpoole/Offside.

Fixtures: Queens Park Rangers (H), Charlton Athletic (A)

Having dropped down from the Premier League last season and retained manager Sean Dyche, it is perhaps no surprise that Burnley are at the top of the pile at this late stage.

Though the Clarets lost star men Kieran Trippier and Danny Ings, Sam Vokes has returned from a lengthy lay-off, and Dyche added key signings in Joey Barton and Andre Gray.

And, while there will be no premature celebrations at Turf Moor, Burnley are surely favourites to return to the top flight from here.

Hosting QPR on Sunday, before travelling to already-relegated Charlton on the last day, the Clarets have two winnable games, while their nearest challengers battle each other.

Barring a dramatic goal swing, four points should be enough for Dyche’s men, and they should have little difficult amassing that total over their final two matches.

Middlesbrough

25 April 2015 - Sky Bet Championship - Fulham v Middlesbrough - Middlesbrough manager, Aitor Karanka - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Middlesbrough host Brighton on the last day of the season. Photo: Marc Atkins/Offside.

Fixtures: Birmingham City (A), Brighton & Hove Albion (H)

Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough looked just about there a couple of weeks ago, but back-to-back draws have allowed Brighton back in, meaning this race will go to a nervy final day.

Having been beaten in the play-off final by Norwich last term, Boro will be particularly determined to avoid a similar fate this time out and take their place in the Premier League for the first time since 2008-09.

In order to do so, they may need two wins, and, on Friday night, they head to out-of-form Birmingham.

However, while their hosts haven’t won in four, Karanka will be wary of a City side that had earlier looked capable of gaining promotion themselves.

And, after that, comes the crunch clash with Brighton.

Boro’s superior goal difference should make a point enough, but that could all change depending on results this weekend, and both sides will have to attack that last fixture.

Brighton & Hove Albion

12 September 2015 - Championship - Brighton & Hove Albion v Hull City Brighton players swarm Tomer Hemed to celebrate his goal Photo: Charlotte Wilson

It has been an outstanding season for Brighton and their players. Photo: Charlotte Wilson/Offside.

Fixtures: Derby County (H), Middlesbrough (A)

Under Chris Hughton, Brighton’s turnaround has been incredible.

After finishing 20th to escape relegation to League One by six points last season, the former Newcastle boss has now inspired an improbable title push.

While in charge of the Magpies, Hughton was able to gain promotion with relatively little issue, ending well clear of all challengers, but it’s been a little different on the south coast.

The Seagulls were four points behind Middlesbrough just two weeks ago, but made the most of the Teessiders’ clash with Burnley and subsequent draw with Ipswich to move level on points.

Unfortunately for Brighton, they now have the toughest final two fixtures, though.

Hosting fifth-placed Derby is never an easy task, and, after that, Hughton’s men head north to Boro, where they’ll likely need a win to go up.

Shoot Says: Burnley and Middlesbrough to go up; for Brighton, the play-offs loom.

 
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