thumbnail Hello,

The Whites will face another tough test at Elland Road as Tony Mowbray's promotion-chasing side visit west Yorkshire, while Cardiff look to get back to winning ways at Leicester

After running out of steam in the Capital One Cup against Chelsea in midweek, Leeds United will look to invigorate their Championship campaign when they host Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Tony Mowbray's side are back in the hunt for a top-two spot after picking up nine points from their last possible 12 and recent slip-ups from Cardiff and Crystal Palace.

WEEKEND FIXTURES IN FULL

Blackpool
Derby
Birmingham
Blackburn
Ipswich
Leeds
Leicester
Millwall
Peterborough
Sheff Weds
Watford
Crystal Palace
vs
vs
vs
vs
vs
vs
vs
vs
vs
vs
vs
vs
Wolves (Fri)
Hull City (Fri)
Burnley

Brighton
Bristol City
Middlesbrough
Cardiff
Barnsley
Bolton
Charlton
Nottm Forest
Huddersfield
The Teessiders have steadily improved over the course of the campaign, and Mowbray believes his side are on the right track.

He told reporters: "We are doing okay. There was a huge change around in our squad last summer. A lot of players left.

"We have built a new squad and as with any new squad that's put together - 10, 11 new players came in - it takes time to gel, so to be sitting third after 22 games coming up to Christmas, we are doing okay.

"We are in touch. There have been plenty of opportunities that have slipped through our fingers, really, where we could have picked up more points, but we would probably have taken where we sit at the moment at the start of the season when we were putting together a new team."

Boro have received an extra boost this week, after learning that on-loan Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran is unlikely to be recalled by the Blues in January, and spend all season at the Riverside Stadium.

Mowbray added: "Eddie Newton was at the training ground on Friday and at the game on Saturday.

"He's not Rafa Benitez, of course, but he's telling me the club policy is not to bring on loan players back.

"He told me they have no intention of bringing him back. Josh is doing great for us and we obviously hope he can stay - but he's Chelsea's player."

Meanwhile, Leeds will go into the game with new owners, as GFH Capital will officially complete their takeover of the club on Friday.

The Bahrain-based investment bank have been in talks with Ken Bates for a number of months and will become sole owners at Elland Road, with Bates kept on as club president next season after a period of transition in the board room.

League-leaders Cardiff were shocked last week by Peterborough, who became the first team to avoid defeat at the Bluebirds' home this season and even won, and will face a tough test to resurrect their form when they travel to Leicester.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
MATEJ VYDRA
The 20-year-old Czech Republic international is on loan at Watford from Udinese and has scored eight goals in 18 games for the Hornets and has already secured six points for his side this season with vital goals.
ANTHONY KNOCKAERT
Capable of dazzling and frustrating in equal measure, the France Under-21 striker grabbed headlines in October with two stunning goals against Huddersfield but the 21-year-old is most effective when sitting behind David Nugent and supplying the former Preston and Burnley frontman.
SCOTT MCDONALD
The Australian is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance at the Riverside Stadium this season. The former Celtic man was frozen out of the first-team picture as the club looked to offload his hefty pay packet, but eight goals in 13 games since his first appearance of the term in October have propelled Middlesbrough into the top three and could see the club shell out for a while longer as they chase the Premier League pay day.
Malky Mackay has Stephen McPhail available again for Saturday's clash. The Irishman has played just once this season, but is now ready to help the Welsh side in their title tilt.

"I'm fit now to be fair," he told the South Wales Echo. "I have played six or seven games with the development team so hopefully I will be involved at some point."

The Foxes have won just three of their last 10 games, and were beaten by fellow play-off hopefuls Millwall last weekend, but Nigel Pearson is still confident in his side's ability to secure automatic promotion this term.

"We are still well in the shake-up," Pearson told reporters.

"It is very tight above us. I have a good handle on the perspective.

"It was a missed opportunity against Millwall but we are in and amongst it.

"We have two games [against Cardiff and Hull City] coming up and, if we beat them, we can make a big impact because they are teams around us in the table."

At the bottom the the table a resurgent Ipswich face Bristol City with a chance to cut the bottom four teams away from the rest of the pack.

The Tractor Boys are currently 20th, one place but five points above the Robins below them.

Mick McCarthy's side lost their first game in six last weekend against Leeds, and defender Luke Chambers has hailed the new manager in Suffolk for his straight-talking approach.

He told the East Anglian Daily Times: "The gaffer has made no secret that if you are not performing to your best and not buying into what he wants, you will be out.

"They have come in with their own ideas and the lads have bought into them quickly.

"Maybe, people who were possibly comfortable in the team under the previous manager have found that it is a new start for everyone."

The fight to snatch a place in the play-offs remains as tight as ever with just five points separating Leicester in fifth and 12th-placed Leeds.

Nottingham Forest and Watford are both in the shake-up and will face each other at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The Reds and the Hornets were both taken over in the summer, with the Kuwaiti Al-Hasawi family in control at the City Ground, while the owners of Udinese and Granada, the Pozzo family, added the Hertfordshire club to their portfolio.

Gianfranco Zola, among a number of players from Serie A and La Liga, arrived at Vicarage Road in the immediate aftermath, and the club are on a fine run of form, with just one defeat in their last nine games, including five wins.

Despite the Hornets fine form, Forest coach Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink believes the Championship's unpredictable nature gives them a fine chance of victory as they chase a return to the top-flight.

"We are doing our best for it [promotion]," the Dutchman told reporters.

"It depends on a lot of factors, you need a little bit of luck and you need everything to go for you.

"It is a very tight division. Everybody can beat everybody - look at Cardiff who were beaten by Peterborough at home."

Headlines of the Week
  • Birmingham manager Lee Clark has warned Liverpool that they will have to pay a "substantial fee" if they want to take Jack Butland to Anfield as Pepe Reina's replacement.
  • Reports suggested this week that Blackburn boss Henning Berg stormed out of the club's Christmas dinner event after a fan attempted to put a Michael Jackson wig on his head, although the Norwegian claimed that he simply refused to take part in the horse-play and left at the time he had originally intended to.
  • After Chris Wood notched twice in Tuesday's win over Brighton, Millwall revealed their anger at West Brom changing the goalposts over a permanent move for the Kiwi. Lions owner John Berylson claimed this week to have agreed deals worth £500,000 and £1 million for the striker.
Follow Matt Scott on

Related

From the web