The fight for the final play-off spot

We look at the chances of Reading, Nottingham Forest, Ipswich, Brighton and Bournemouth of finishing in the final play-off position.

With just seven games left to play in the Championship, the table is beginning to take its final form. Leicester sit comfortably at the top, 16 points ahead of third place QPR with the chance to seal promotion this weekend if other results go their way. Derby have looked comfortable in the play-off positions for a few months and it seems to be between them and QPR for third place. 

After a slow start to the season, Uwe Rosler has come into Wigan and fired them up the table, really increasing their chances of returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking. They sit six points above seventh place and look certain to take part in the play-offs. 

The final spot is still up for grabs however, and there could be as many as seven clubs trying to reach it – though it seems much less likely for Blackburn and Watford sitting 11th and 12th. 

A poor run of results has seen Forest lose their play-off spot and drop to the bottom of the form table, at the same time as Wigan began gaining momentum. Reading currently occupy sixth but it is by no means their's yet. 

6 – Reading – 60pts

Consistency and home form is the only reason Reading aren't higher up the table this season. They've shown highly capable performances against QPR at Loftus Road winning 3-1, but more recently lost to second from bottom Barnsley at the Madejski, followed by a draw with Huddersfield.

There's no easy fixtures left for any team but that's especially true for Reading, who face Bournemouth, Leicester and Wigan this month before their final game of the season at home to Burnley. Four of their remaining seven are away from home, which may suit Reading seeing as they haven't won at home since the end of January. 

7 – Nottingham Forest – 58pts

Forest are without a win in 10 games, but showed a much improved performance against Ipswich on Saturday. Stuart Pearce is not set to take charge until the end of the season, so caretaker manager Gary Brazil will be overseeing the team until that point.

Their toughest fixtures during the run-in come against QPR, Bournemouth and a final game at home to Brighton. They won't be giving up on the play-offs after a long season fighting for a place, but fans may be looking to next season when they will hope to have a fully fit squad and be challenging for the top two. 

8 – Ipswich – 58pts

Mick McCarthy's men sit level on points with Nottingham Forest, just two points off their points total for last season. They play with a very direct threat that has paid off for them this season, and have scored more goals from set-pieces than any other team in the division – 19.

Their centre-backs have got 10 of their 51 goals between them. With the exception of Burnley their remaining games all appear winnable and their chances were boosted after news that on-loan Crystal Palace man Johnny Williams will be staying with them for the rest of the season.

9 – Brighton – 57pts

Oscar Garcia's men seemed to have started conceding and losing games at the wrong time, but a 3-3 draw on Saturday stopped their run of three consecutive losses.

Finishing fourth last season and losing out in the play-off semi-final's to rivals Crystal Palace will have left a bitter taste in the player's mouths, who will no doubt step up their performances a gear hoping to gain promotion this season. They've received a huge boost with news that Craig Mackail-Smith could return this Saturday against Barnsley, for the first time since rupturing his achilles last March. Mackail-Smith notched two goals in a game for Albion's U21's this week. 

10 – Bournemouth – 55pts

Undoubtedly my favourite team in the league this year, not just for the attractive football Eddie Howe's side play but for the journey he's lead them on – from League Two to fighting for a play-off place in the Championship.

The Cherries have won six of their last eight games, but face QPR and Reading in their next two fixtures. Eddie Howe has rightly stated those two games will be vital if Bournemouth are to finish the season on yet another high, but has equally said wherever they finish now they've had an amazing season. 

It's incredibly close to call, and is likely to go right to the end. May 3rd includes fixtures such as: Reading v Burnley, Forest v Brighton, Ipswich v Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall v Bournemouth. 

The first two of those fixtures will be pivotal and I believe will decide who earns that final play-off spot. 

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