Championship showdown: who will take advantage this weekend?

Alex Neil Norwich Sky Bet

With the promotion race in the Sky Bet Championship shaping up to be the most exciting in years, we look at who plays who in the pivotal Easter weekend.

Just eight points separate the top eight clubs in the Championship table and although some clubs have more realistic shots at the play-offs rather than the automatic places, the whole scene may look completely different next Tuesday evening at the end of two rounds of matches which are sure to have a crucial impact on the final places.

Second-placed Watford arguably have the toughest weekend on the cards with an away trip to fifth-placed Derby County on Friday evening, followed by a visit to Vicarage Road from third-placed Middlesbrough on Monday lunch time, who are behind the Hornets only on goal difference. 

Steve McClaren's faltering Rams have a great chance to get their promotion charge back on track - irrespective of their result against Watford - with a visit to Wigan on Easter Monday, who haven't won at home since August last year. Middlesbrough, meanwhile, start the bank holiday weekend at home to Malky Mackay's struggling Wigan and will be looking to continue their impressive home form.

Top club Bournemouth travel to Mick McCarthy's Ipswich Town on Good Friday with the Tractor Boys currently occupying the final play-off berth. Eddie Howe's surprise package then entertain mid-table Birmingham on Monday, while Ipswich travel to Huddersfield Town. 

The most impressive performers in 2015 have been Norwich City, and they will be looking to continue that form with what looks on paper to be a very presentable Easter fixture list. Alex Neil's men travel to Brighton on Friday afternoon and then welcome Sheffield Wednesday to Carrow Road on Monday. Both the Canaries' opponents have little to play for.

Brentford have drifted in and out of the play-off bracket in recent weeks, and they have a tough local derby at Fulham - who need the points to escape the relegation battle - on Good Friday and then will be visited by Nottingham Forest on Monday.

The final club in the promotion picture is Wolverhampton Wanderers, and while Kenny Jackett has seen his team in fine form in recent weeks, they must face two of the Championships most in-form clubs over the weekend. On Friday they take a short trip to Nottingham Forest and on Monday they have a tea-time televised clash with resurgent Leeds United.

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