Middlesbrough begin life without Gareth Southgate as West Brom and Newcastle both seek to return to winning ways. The weekend's action kicks off on Friday night with mid-table duo Watford and Sheffield Wednesday locking horns at Vicarage Road in a contest that can be seen live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1. All eyes will be on Middlesbrough on Saturday as they travel to Deepdale for their first match since relieving Southgate of his duties in midweek. Colin Cooper will take charge of team affairs as Boro look to build on the 2-0 victory over Derby that was not enough to save Southgate, although Preston are just two places beneath them in sixth and will sense a good opportunity. West Brom still lead the way at present despite suffering their third defeat in five games against Swansea on Tuesday and they will be anxious to bounce back against a Coventry side that has slipped down the table after such a promising start. Second-placed Newcastle have been in even poorer form than the Baggies, failing to win any of their last four games, and they will hope to recover from back-to-back losses at home to draw specialists Doncaster. Stuttering Sheffield United and high-flying Cardiff, two of the other favourites to secure promotion before the season kicked off, meet in a mouth-watering clash at Bramall Lane. The most eye-catching fixture at the other end of the division pits the bottom two against each other as winless Ipswich journey to Home Park to tackle Plymouth. Peterborough are the third side in the relegation zone and they will be aiming to end a run of five games without a victory against a Scunthorpe outfit that has adapted better to life in the Championship. Blackpool will hope to maintain their unexpected promotion push with an away triumph against rapidly improving Swansea. Nottingham Forest have surged to seventh on the back of five successive victories and will want to make it six away to inconsistent Crystal Palace. Two other teams going well in recent weeks are Barnsley and Bristol City, who do battle at Oakwell. Saturday's action concludes with lowly Derby taking on a Queens Park Rangers side that is hovering just below the play-off places.
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