Championship Preview: Leicester face Watford in play-offs
By Football News
Watford will hope to bounce back from missing out on automatic promotion when they travel to Leicester City in the play-off semi-finals.
Gianfranco Zola’s side fell agonisingly short of second place on Saturday after going down to a 2-1 defeat to Leeds United at Vicarage Road.
Debutant goalkeeper Jack Bonham made a costly injury-time error when he allowed Ross McCormack's lob to creep in, ending the Hornets' chances of going up and promoting Hull City to the Premier League in the process.
First-choice keeper Manuel Almunia is expected to start Thursday's first leg tie, after he sustained a hamstring injury in the warm-up against Leeds.
Almunia had to be replaced by Jonathan Bond in the starting line-up, who was himself taken off with a broken nose in the first half.
Leicester clinched sixth place in dramatic fashion on the final day of the season with their first league victory at rivals Nottingham Forest since 1972.
Anthony Knockaert's injury-time winner at the City Ground and Bolton's failure to beat Blackpool saw Leicester sneak the final play-off position.
Nigel Pearson will have Michael Keane and Harry Kane available for selection as their loan deals from Manchester United and Tottenham respectively run until the end of the season.
Sean St Ledger has returned after a one-month spell with Millwall but Neil Danns and Jermaine Beckford will not feature as their temporary deals at Huddersfield Town end in June.
In the other semi-final, Brighton will host Ian Holloway's Crystal Palace on Friday evening.
Gus Poyet’s men went into their final league fixture against Wolves playing for a position within the top four.
Two first-half goals from Kazenga LuaLua helped consign Wolves to League One and secure Brighton’s fourth-placed finish, which is their highest for 30 years.
Crystal Palace relegated Peterborough United with a 3-2 win at Selhurst Park to set up the two-legged tie with their arch-rivals.
Brighton will be full of confidence heading into the game after finishing the season on a nine-game unbeaten run and with the best defensive record in the Championship.
Poyet will be without defender Bruno for both legs though after the Spanish full-back picked up a calf injury prior to Saturday.