FOOTBALL LEAGUE MATCHES OF THE DAY

THE CHAMPIONSHIP

Crewe Alexandra v Wigan

GIVEN THAT they led the Championship by six points in early November but now trail the current front-runners Ipswich Town by five, it is hard to argue that Wigan Athletic's status as promotion favourites is as strong as ever, but the manager, Paul Jewell, is determined to keep negative thoughts out of his dressing-room.

One point only from Wigan's last two home games has set off alarm bells, but Jewell prefers to focus on the three consecutive wins that preceded the draw with Watford and last Saturday's defeat by Stoke. "You could say one point from six or 10 points from 15, depending on how you want to look at it," he said. "A couple of blips and people start to worry, but that reflects the high standards we have set. Really, to be second in the table at this stage of the season is a great position.

"People say Nathan Ellington is having a dip in form because he has not scored in three games, but over the season he has 17 from 30 games, which I'd say was pretty good going. If that is a dip, long may it continue."

None the less, Jewell has been in hot pursuit of a new striker, switching his attention to Stoke City's Adi Akinbiyi after failing, for the moment, to prise Brett Ormerod from Southampton.

But Jewell hopes the lessons learned from last season, when Wigan were edged out of a play-off spot on the last day, can help them through any crises ahead. "A lot of these players were in this division for the first time, but I think we are better equipped now," he said.

He is wary of another slip-up today, however. "We beat Crewe 4-1 at our place in October and [the Crewe manager] Dario [Gradi] said he thought it would be a dogfight between Gillingham, Rotherham, Brighton and themselves for the relegation places.

"Instead, they have had a great run and they are 12th in the table. They are always dangerous because Dario lets them play with complete freedom and on the day they can beat anyone."

Team news

CARDIFF v BRIGHTON

Cardiff injured: Margetson, Jerome, Parry, Boland, Croft.

Doubtful: Collins (ligament strain).

Brighton suspended: Oatway.

Last season: No corresponding fixture.

COVENTRY v BURNLEY

Coventry injured: Morrell (ankle ligament).

Doubtful: Duffy (hamstring).

Burnley suspended: Sinclair.

Last season: 4-0 to Coventry.

CREWE v WIGAN

Crewe injured: Jones (thigh).

Doubtful: Moses, Walker (both hamstring), Williams (hand).

Wigan doubtful: Thome (knee).

Last season: 3-2 to Wigan.

GILLINGHAM v MILWALL

Gillingham injured: Hope (groin), Spiller (broken leg), Sidibe (Achilles).

Millwall injured: Stack (knee), Ifill (ankle), Sweeney (knee).

Last season: 4-3 to Gillingham.

IPSWICH v LEICESTER

Leicester injured: Wilcox, Morris, Blake.

Doubtful: Williams (hamstring).

Last season: No fixture.

LEEDS v READING

Reading doubtful: Keown (knee), Sidwell (dead leg).

Last season: No fixture.

PLYMOUTH v ROTHERHAM

Plymouth suspended: Connolly.

Rotherham injured: McIntosh (hamstring).

Last season: No fixture.

QPR v PRESTON

QPR injured: Thorpe (hamstring), Culkin (knee).

Preston injured: McKenna (broken hand).

International duty: Daley (Jamaica).

Last season: No fixture.

SUNDERLAND v WATFORD

Sunderland injured: Kyle.

Doubtful: Myhre (shoulder).

Watford injured: Gunnarsson.

Last season: 2-0 to Sunderland.

LEAGUE ONE

Luton Town v Hull City

SUCH HAS been the fiercely competitive nature of League One this season that it took Hull eight consecutive wins to displace Luton from top spot at the beginning of January - and it took only a draw in their next game for Peter Taylor's side to be nudged back into second place again. They meet at Kenilworth Road today with Mike Newell's team, beaten only once in their last 15 games, one point in front.

Should there be a winner this afternoon, they will be installed as clear favourites for the title, but both managers have been at pains to play down the game's importance in the long term.

"It is a massive game but let's not get carried away," Taylor said. "After this one there are another 45 points at stake for both sides." Newell added: "We have a little score to settle as Hull beat us at their place ... But nothing will be decided. It is only three points."

LEAGUE TWO

Rochdale v Lincoln City

THESE ARE promising times for Lincoln City, who travel to Spotland on the back of three wins in a row. The Imps are into the top seven and the club, which was in administration three years ago, has just reported a pounds 750,000 profit.

But the manager, Keith Alexander, is not afraid to reveal the cost of that financial turnaround, putting his side's bid for a third consecutive play-off spot in perspective.

"I'm working for pounds 20,000 a year less than previously and I have players on pounds 300 a week less," he said. "They feel they should be better rewarded, but I have to remind them that the alternative was to have no club at all.

"It is a very long time since the club made a profit like that, if they ever have. Our gates are up from 3,000 a couple of years ago to nearly 5,000 and the commercial department has taken off. It has been a great effort."

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'