Championship preview

Saints eye top spot; Rovers desperate for Yorkshire derby points

Brian McDermott: Hoping to guide Reading to success over Burnley

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This weekend's Championship action gets under way on Friday evening when play-off hopefuls Reading and Burnley battle it out at the Madejski Stadium, live on Sky Sports HD2 and 2.

FA Cup action resumes this weekend and the involvement of five second-tier teams in the fifth round means only seven Championship games are scheduled for Saturday.

Southampton could leapfrog West Ham into the top spot with the right result at Derby, while Doncaster will be desperate to climb out of the table basement in what promises to be a tightly-contested local derby at Leeds.

High-flying Reading will be seeking their fourth win on the bounce when they entertain Burnley on Friday in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

The Clarets sit four points behind the Royals but would close on the play-off places with victory over their promotion rivals.

Second-placed Southampton need just a point to climb above Championship leaders West Ham on goal difference when they host Derby, while a recent slump has left the Rams without a win in four games.

Derby clash

Leeds are still without a permanent manager and have suffered back-to-back defeats, a run they will be keen to halt when they host local rivals Doncaster at Elland Road, with Rovers sitting rock-bottom of the standings.

Promotion chasers Cardiff will look to close the gap on nearest rivals Southampton when they travel to Ipswich, who will be keen to continue their recent revival having secured three successive wins.

Beleaguered Barnsley have suffered consecutive defeats in their last two encounters and will hope to turn things around at home to financially-stricken Portsmouth, who are set to enter administration for the second time in two years and face a 10-point deduction.

Nottingham Forest's woeful run continued when they lost at Middlesbrough on Tuesday and the East Midlanders will be desperate for some relief at home to Coventry, who are also languishing in the drop zone.

Crystal Palace and Watford will battle for dominance in mid-table when they meet at Selhurst Park, with the Hornets having won three of their last four encounters, while Palace's draw at Bristol City in midweek marked their third on the spin.

Finally, fellow strugglers Peterborough and Bristol City will be keen to put some distance between themselves and the relegation places when they go head-to-head at London Road.