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Goal-shy Derby County may still edge faltering Forest

Leicester are 1/33 good things to win the Championship title, while Burnley (1/8 to be promoted), seven points behind the Foxes but ten points clear of the rest, will surely be back in the Premier League as well next season. But who will join them via the play-offs? It’s all getting very interesting.

Earlier in the season both Derby and Nottingham Forest went on such fabulous runs that it seemed inconceivable that one or the other wouldn’t be promoted, perhaps even both.

But the two clubs that will forever be associated with Brain Clough clash this Saturday in the east midlands derby desperate to regain lost momentum and stay in the race.

Derby, the division’s top scorers earlier in the season, have failed to find the net in their last four games, while picking up just two points. They remain in third place, but now there’s a queue of promotion wannabes closing in behind them in better form and even a play-off place for Steve McClaren’s men can no longer be taken for granted.

Forest are in an even more precarious state. Since Sheffield United dumped them out of the FA Cup, they have picked up just three points from six league games and look likely to drop out of the top six any time soon.

These local dust-ups can never be called with any confidence, but Derby (21/20) were by all accounts unfortunate not to take all three points at Reading last week. What better game for their luck to change?

Coral’s Championship market highlights just what a close and exciting battle we have for the all-important third promotion spot: 5/2 Derby, 11/4 QPR and Wigan, 11/2 Brighton, 13/2 Forest, 8 Reading.

Wigan have been whizzing up the table this year with six straight wins taking them up to fifth (not forgetting their FA Cup heroics at Manchester City).

An incredible 3-3 draw at home to relegation strugglers Yeovil in midweek – five goals were scored from the 82nd minute – was a shock ending to such an impressive sequence, but they will be confident of regaining the winning thread at home to Watford this weekend. Coral go 21/20.

Brighton (10/11) should maintain their challenge at home to Ipswich, but QPR (21/10) have their work cut out at Middlesbrough, although Ravel Morrison looks to be a great loan coup for Harry Redknapp and might well make a difference again.