Betting Special: Backing Bolton to bounce straight back to the big time

Our expert has cast his eye over the likely promotion contenders and thinks there is value to be found in backing Dougie Freedman's in-form side to pip the others to the post
With just two games left to play, the Championship promotion race has very nearly run its course, as the front runners face off in a frantic sprint for the finishing line.

Second-placed Hull require just three points from their remaining fixtures to secure automatic promotion alongside champions Cardiff, making them nailed on at 1/14 (1.07) with William Hill.

Watford previously looked like serious competitors for a place in the top two but their inconsistent recent form means that they will now have to try their luck in the lottery of the play-offs, barring an astounding Hull meltdown.

To win promotion from the Championship

Odds from William Hill
Hull City 1/14
Watford 9/4
Brighton 11/4
Crystal Palace 4/1
Bolton Wanderers 9/2
Leicester City 6/1
Nottingham Forest 12/1
As the only side currently guaranteed a play-off place (at worst), Gianfranco Zola's men are third favourites at 9/4 (3.25) to go up, but their unpredictability may turn off potential punters.

Conversely, Brighton have been a model of consistency under Zola's old friend Gus Poyet, and have a four point cushion separating them from seventh-placed Leicester, so look like a strong shout at 11/4 (3.75).

However, The Seagulls would have to see off the threat of fierce rivals Crystal Palace, who should garner enough points from their remaining three games to ensure a place in the top six.

Ian Holloway's men have been in woeful form over the past few weeks, but their manager's previous play-off triumph with Blackpool may give them a slight edge, at 4/1 (5.00).

Dougie Freedman's decision to leave Selhurst Park for Bolton looked like a poor one for much of the season, but his side's resurgence since the turn of the year has transformed them from relegation battlers to promotion hopefuls, and this impetus would stand them in good stead for a play-off push.

The Trotters still boast a number of Premier League quality players in their squad, and offer attractive value at 9/2 (5.50) to secure an immediate return to the top flight.

Leicester's dramatic collapse from pre-Christmas title contenders has left them sitting outside the top six, and with difficult games against Watford and away to Nottingham Forest to contend with, they are probably best avoided at 6/1 (7.00).

In fact, the 12/1 (13.00) price on offer for Forest seems like a more tempting proposition, considering their manageable remaining fixtures of a trip to struggling Millwall and that home game against their local rivals on the final day of the normal season, not to mention Billy Davies' previous experience of play-off success.

Bolton to win promotion from the Championship at 9/2 (5.50) with William Hill

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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.

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