Championship - Team news: Saints seek promotion
All the team news ahead of Saturday's Championship fixtures, with Southampton looking to clinch promotion.
All matches kick off at 15:00 unless stated
Blackpool hope to have Stephen Dobbie available as they look to secure an Championship play-off spot against Burnley. Dobbie has scored four times in as many starts since rejoining the Seasiders on loan from Swansea last month, but the 29-year-old forward missed Tuesday night's 1-0 win over Leeds with a stiff back. Top-scorer Kevin Phillips is back in training after having an injection to ease a hip problem and he and Dobbie will push Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Lomana LuaLua, who are the men in possession up front. Roman Bednar (knee) will be unable to add further firepower in attack, while centre-back Craig Cathcart remains a doubt due to a cyst on his knee. Midfielder Keith Southern serves the final game of a three-match suspension.
Burnley have no new injury worries ahead of their trip to play-off chasing Blackpool. Forward duo Jay Rodriguez and Martin Paterson remain on the sidelines with respective hip and hamstring problems. Fellow attackers Danny Ings and Josh McQuoid are pressing for recalls to boss Eddie Howe's starting XI after being dropped to the bench or Tuesday night's 0-0 draw at Leicester.
Brighton and Hove Albion v Birmingham City
Brighton skipper Gordon Greer could again be absent. Defender Greer sat out the 2-2 draw with Watford on Tuesday night as he has been playing with a niggling abdominal injury for the last few weeks and with Albion's play-off bid now over, he may be rested again. Marcos Painter will miss out against his former club after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring injury against the Hornets, so Romain Vincelot or Joe Mattock will step in at left-back. Spanish midfielder Vicente Rodriguez was only fit enough for a place on the bench in midweek after an illness so he could start. Centre-half Tommy Elphick is the only long-term absentee with the Achilles problem which ruled him out for the entire season.
Birmingham will be without a host of key players for the game at Brighton, but manager Chris Hughton is hopeful Jordon Mutch could be involved. Stand-in skipper Steven Caldwell has been ruled out for the rest of the season with the groin injury sustained in Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Ipswich, meaning Pablo Ibanez is set to partner Curtis Davies at the heart of defence. Boaz Myhill continues to miss out due to a sprained thumb, with Colin Doyle keeping his place between the sticks, while midfielders Guirane N'Daw (hamstring) and Keith Fahey (groin) miss out once again. Captain Stephen Carr (knee) and fellow right-back Jonathan Spector (thigh) also continue their recoveries. But the return of midfielder Mutch from an ankle injury could provide a rare positive for boss Hughton, whose side need just a point to confirm their place in the play-offs.
Bristol City will continue to be without striker Brett Pitman. Pitman serves the final game of his three-match ban incurred following his sending-off against Coventry on Easter Monday and is therefore unavailable to manager Derek McInnes. Otherwise, the Robins boss has no new injury concerns ahead of the fixture - and McInnes has been boosted by the return to training of defenders Lewin Nyatanga and James Wilson this week following ankle problems. Midfielder Marvin Elliott (Achilles) and striker David Clarkson (ankle) remain sidelined for the remainder of the campaign. City will guarantee survival with a victory at Ashton Gate, although they could lose and still secure safety depending on results elsewhere.
Barnsley manager Keith Hill will, meanwhile, be able to choose from an unchanged squad. Hill has no new injury or suspension problems, but could be tempted to make several changes for the final two games of the season. Midfielder Stephen Dawson and striker Kallum Higginbotham, on loan from Huddersfield, could return to the starting line-up. Hill must decide whether to retain David Cotterill on the wing in place of teenager Reuben Noble-Lazarus, while winger Matty Done (hamstring), plus defenders Scott Golbourne (groin) and Rob Edwards (dead-leg) remain sidelined. Skipper Jacob Butterfield (knee) and goalkeeper Luke Steele (abdomen) have been long-term absentees but are hoping to return to fitness during the close season. The Tykes have won only one of their last 13 league games, losing eight of their previous 10, but results elsewhere on Tuesday night ensured their Championship survival despite a 3-1 defeat at Hull.
Cardiff will once again be without midfielder Craig Conway when they take on Leeds. Conway was ruled out for the season after being substituted with ankle ligament damage during the 1-1 draw with Watford on Easter Monday, and will therefore not be able to play his part as the Bluebirds continue their pursuit of a play-off place. Manager Malky Mackay has two other injury doubts ahead of the visit of the Whites. Striker Rudy Gestede is struggling with a hip problem and has missed Cardiff's last two outings, while midfielder Don Cowie is also carrying a minor niggle and may not be available to Mackay as he looks to secure a spot in the top six with victory.
Leeds, meanwhile, will be without Darren O'Dea and Billy Paynter for their last away fixture of the Championship season. Defender O'Dea sits out his second suspension of the season after his dismissal for two yellow card offences in Tuesday night's defeat at Blackpool. Fellow defenders Alex Bruce and Paul Connolly, who both started on the substitutes' bench in midweek, are likely to come into contention. Striker Paynter, who made a rare start for Leeds at Blackpool after firing two goals in last weekend's win over Peterborough, was forced off early in the second half with an Achilles problem. Luciano Becchio replaced Paynter and is expected to resume his partnership with Ross McCormack up front. The Whites' outside play-off hopes were extinguished on Tuesday as they slipped to 12th in the table having won only two of their last eight games. Neil Warnock's men now sit 11 points adrift of the top six.
Alex Nimely (hamstring) is again unlikely to be involved as Coventry take on Doncaster in search of the win required to maintain any hope of survival. The on-loan Manchester City striker missed Tuesday's 1-0 home defeat to Millwall, a result which leaves the Sky Blues five points adrift of safety with only six left to play for. Survival is now out of Coventry's hands, with Andy Thorn's side relegated to League One regardless of their efforts at the Ricoh Arena should fourth-bottom Bristol City beat Barnsley at Ashton Gate. Midfielder Carl Baker made his return from a hamstring injury as a second-half substitute in midweek and will again hope to be involved. But defenders Cyrus Christie, Nathan Cameron, Richard Wood (all knee) and Hermann Hreidarsson (shoulder) have all been ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Shelton Martis and Giles Barnes are injury doubts for Doncaster as Dean Saunders' relegated outfit prepare to travel to the Ricoh. Defender Martis has endured an injury-plagued campaign and he was substituted with a calf injury during the midweek draw at Middlesbrough, while midfielder Barnes - an unused substitute at the Riverside Stadium - has a back problem. Winger Kyle Bennett did come off the bench on Tuesday night and suffered no adverse reaction to his recurring toe injury, while youth teamer James Husband will be hoping for further action having made his senior debut as a second-half replacement for Martis in the north east. Habib Beye is once again absent from the Rovers defence as he completes a two-match ban for his red card in last weekend's 4-3 defeat to Portsmouth. Brian Stock (groin) and Tommy Spurr (broken hand) are out for the rest of the season, while El-Hadji Diouf (hamstring) is also unlikely to feature again this term. Midfielder Martin Woods (knee) and forward Habib Bamogo (hamstring) have returned to training, but the Ricoh Arena clash comes too soon for them.
Hull are expected to be without midfielder Tom Cairney for the home clash with Nottingham Forest. Cairney was stretchered off during the midweek win over Barnsley with a suspected broken leg, but subsequent scans confirmed there is no fracture and only heavy bruising. Fellow midfielder Paul McKenna returned to the substitutes' bench on Tuesday night following suspension and replaced Cairney, so he could return to the starting line-up, while wingers Josh King and Robbie Brady are all pushing for recalls. Defender Liam Rosenior sustained a knock to the hip against Barnsley and was forced off late on, but is expected to prove his fitness. Manager Nicky Barmby has no other new injury or suspension problems, but Jack Hobbs (knee), fellow defender Joe Dudgeon and striker Aaron Mclean (both hamstring) remain sidelined. The Tigers' play-off chances are all but over as they require Cardiff and Blackpool to lose their remaining games, while Hull must win their last two and overturn a massive goal difference.
Nottingham Forest though have no new problems ahead of their final away fixture of the Championship season. The Reds secured their Championship status on Tuesday night despite losing 1-0 to title-chasing Reading at the Madejski Stadium. Manager Steve Cotterill brought in Scott Wootton and George Elokobi for that game, with Andy Reid and Greg Cunningham dropping down to the bench. However, he could decide to recall the Irish duo on Humberside. Fit-again winger Paul Anderson is almost certain to continue as a replacement for Garath McCleary, who will serve the final game of his three-match suspension. Former Forest captain Paul McKenna is likely to line up against the Reds after returning from suspension for the Tigers against Barnsley in midweek.
Ipswich are unlikely to have any new injury or suspension problems for the visit of in-form Millwall. Midfielder Jimmy Bullard (sinusitis) and goalkeeper Richard Wright (knee), both fringe players, were the only absentees for Tuesday's impressive 1-1 draw against Birmingham. Manager Paul Jewell made one change for the clash, Michael Chopra coming in for Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. But the former Arsenal forward is firmly in contention for a recall against the Lions having stepped off the bench shortly after the hour mark in midweek to cap a scintillating substitute display with Town's leveller. Jewell is set to make further changes for the clash and give valuable game time to the likes of Josh Carson, Luke Hyam and Byron Lawrence.
Millwall arrive at Portman Road already safe from relegation on the back of four successive victories - for the first time in over two years. Darius Henderson is pushing to return to their squad. The Lions' 15-goal top scorer has missed the last four games with a niggling calf injury but is back in training and will be handed another late fitness check. Midfielder Liam Trotter hopes to start against his former club having made two substitute appearances following a month on the sidelines with a thigh injury. On-loan Tottenham youngster Ryan Mason will also be checked over after shaking off an ankle problem butmidfield duo Tamika Mkandawire (knee) and Therry Racon (ankle) are still out. The Lions are safe from the drop but still have the carrot of finishing above south London rivals Crystal Palace to play for.
Middlesbrough v Southampton (17:20)
Boro full-back Joe Bennett and midfielder Faris Haroun both missed Tuesday's draw with Doncaster with hamstring problems, but could return. Striker Marvin Emnes (knee) will be monitored, utility man Rhys Williams is closing in on a return after ankle ligament damage but skipper Matthew Bates is out for the season with the fifth cruciate ligament injury of his career.
Morgan Schneiderlin and Jos Hooiveld are expected to be fit for Southampton as they attempt to secure promotion back to the Premier League. French midfielder Schneiderlin has missed the last three matches with the knee injury he suffered in the derby draw with Portsmouth a fortnight ago but he is back in training and should be in the squad. Hooiveld took a knock to the head while scoring Saints' first goal in the 3-1 win at Peterborough on Tuesday and was later substituted as a precaution, but the Dutchman is expected to resume at centre-half. Japan striker Tadanari Lee misses out again with an ankle injury. Victory will give Saints an unassailable eight-point lead over third-placed West Ham, who do not play until Monday.
Peterborough United v Watford
Peterborough will definitely be without Gaby Zakuani for their final home game against Watford. Zakuani has played much of the Championship campaign through the pain of a broken toe and was a surprise inclusion in the starting line up against Southampton on Tuesday night after suffering a dislocated shoulder just three days earlier. Left-back Tommy Rowe is a doubt for Saturday after suffering a broken nose against Southampton.
Adrian Mariappa, meanwhile, returns from suspension to provide Watford with an almost fully-fit squad. Mariappa missed Tuesday's 2-2 draw at Brighton due to a one-match ban following his dismissal in last weekend's clash against Hull. Fellow centre-back Martin Taylor overcame a facial injury to start at the Amex Stadium, meaning manager Sean Dyche now has a welcome selection dilemma in defence as to who partners Nyron Nosworthy. Long-term injury victim Stephen McGinn (knee) is the only absentee at London Road, with the midfielder likely to need more reserve-team action before being considered for selection. Although it remains to be seen whether he could make the bench between now and the end of the season.
Portsmouth v Derby County
Portsmouth will be without on-loan striker Chris McGuire as they attempt to stave off relegation for at least another week against Derby. McGuire has scored three goals in 10 matches since joining Pompey from Pride Park in March, but he is ineligible to face his parent club. One potential replacement, Luca Scapuzzi, is also ruled out as he has gone back to Manchester City having failed to make an impact during his loan spell. Winger Kelvin Etuhu may come back after missing Tuesday's win over Crystal Palace due to a family bereavement, otherwise Marco Futacs or youngster Ashley Harris - who has yet to make his full debut - could start. Defender Tal Ben Haim is still struggling with a calf injury and is not expected to figure.
But Derby need to check on forward Jamie Ward, defender Tom Naylor and midfielder Ben Davies ahead of their final away game of the season. Ward (dead leg) and Naylor (hamstring) suffered injuries during the 2-0 defeat to Cardiff on Tuesday night while Davies missed the game in the Welsh capital with a tight hamstring. Naylor was replaced by John Brayford, who was included in the squad for the first time in two months after recovering from a torn thigh muscle.
Reading v Crystal Palace
Reading manager Brian McDermott will be without several first-team regulars as his side look to wrap up the Championship title with victory. McDermott will be missing Jem Karacan, who will be sidelined for at least three months with a broken ankle, while full-back Matthew Connolly remains a doubt with an ankle problem of his own. Hal Robson-Kanu and Jay Tabb (rib) have been carrying injuries of late and both will be monitored ahead of kick-off at the Madejski, and Jimmy Kebe could also miss out. Back-up goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen remains out of action with a knee knock and Joseph Mills continues his recovery from a quad injury.
Palace manager Dougie Freedman is, meanwhile, likely to turn to youngsters again to patch up his injury-hit side for the trip to Berkshire. South Africa international Kagisho Dikgacoi is the latest player to see his season come to a premature end after he suffered a thigh injury against Ipswich on Saturday. He joins fellow midfielders Mile Jedinak (groin) and Jonathan Williams (hamstring) and defender Anthony Gardner (hamstring) in missing the run-in. Therefore Kyle De Silva, Kwesi Appiah and Stuart O'Keefe are set to be involved again along with rookie striker Antonio Pedroza, who got the nod ahead of Jermaine Easter and Glenn Murray at Portsmouth on Tuesday and enjoyed an encouraging debut despite a 2-1 defeat for the Eagles.