How Will Eddie Howe Do At Burnley?

It’s not even the end of January, but after the four cup replays this week only six nPower Championship clubs remain in the FA Cup: so take a bow Swansea, Watford, Coventry, Reading, Nottingham Forest and Burnley.

Burnley also made the news this week with the appointment of Eddie Howe as manager – the former Bournemouth boss has been ‘one to watch’ for a couple of seasons and seems to be following Sean O’Driscoll’s career – both played for and managed the Cherries before moving into management roles. Howe’s first game in charge will be at Scunthorpe (Sky Sports 2, 5:20pm): a win would re-ignite the Clarets hopes of a playoff spot and put the Iron in further trouble at the bottom of the table.

Looking at the rest of this week’s games, the top of the table is beginning to look tighter than it has done for some time. QPR’s lead is now down to three points and there are only four points between Watford and the automatic promotion spot.

Rangers’ third away goalless draw of season came at Turf Moor and their recent inability to score goals away from home must be worrying Neil Warnock – they’ve only scored two goals in their last five away games and that was against this weekend’s opponents. Although Rangers are at home to Coventry on Sunday (Sky Sports 1, 1pm), the Sky Blues have only lost once at Loftus Road in the last six meetings in the league. Even if Coventry win at Loftus Road, Swansea would have to win by 19 clear goals at Barnsley on Saturday to go top on goal difference.

As predicted, the Swans had a fairly straightforward 3-0 over Crystal Palace while Cardiff’s inability to win at Norwich was emphasised when Russell Martin cancelled out Jon Parkin’s debut goal for the Bluebirds with a last minute equaliser.

At the bottom, the situation is looking increasingly desperate for Preston, who are now six points away from safety. The Lillywhites were involved in a similar game to the one at Carrow Road – they salvaged a point at home against Leicester courtesy of an equaliser from Ian Hume. However, the bottom six clubs are only separated by nine points and it’s worth pointing out that Scunthorpe’s two games in hand could be crucial; Sheffield United still have to travel to Palace, Ipswich, Preston and Scunthorpe and aren’t exactly out of the woods yet.

There are two candidates for game of the week, each at different ends of the table. Middlesbrough’s 4-0 win at Ashton Gate was probably the biggest surprise last weekend and was something of a double whammy for Preston, who travel to the Riverside this weekend. North End haven’t won at Middlesbrough since November 1971 and have lost four of their six games against the current bottom six. On the other hand, Tony Mowbray’s side have only been beaten once by another club in the bottom six – and no-one would have predicted that Ipswich would have been struggling and both Gordon Strachan and Roy Keane would have been jobless after the Tractor Boys’ 3-1 win back in August.

At the top of the table only two points separate Cardiff from Watford and this game could be a cagey affair. Although the Hornets may have a psychological advantage after their 4-1 win over the Bluebirds at Vicarage Road just after Christmas, Watford haven’t drawn a league game in the Welsh capital since 1938 and have already beaten Norwich and QPR on their travels this season.

Quite a bit more activity in the transfer market this week: Adam Hammill (Wolves) and David Wheater (Bolton) moved up to the Premiership from Barnsley and Middlesbrough respectively. In what looks like a perfect move for all concerned Darren Purse joined Millwall from Sheffield Wednesday, but possibly the most significant move was a loan deal: after having already signed Jon Parkin from Preston, Cardiff borrowed Jay Emmanuel-Thomas from Arsenal – the clearest sign yet that Jay Bothroyd may be on his way to pastures new.

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Championship football news round up

Newcastle United midfielder Kevin Nolan has been voted the Championship Fans Player of the Month in November, hanging on to the award for the second month in succession.

The former Bolton player has been in impressive form for the Magpies scoring nine goals so far this season. While the 29 year old is chuffed with the award he says his main goal is returning to the Premier League with Newcastle at first time of trying.

He said he would be happier for Newcastle to win every remaining game without scoring himself, to get back to the Premiership.

Stern John, who joined Ipswich from Crystal Palace on loan until the end of the year, says he would be up for making the deal permanent if he is wanted by the Suffolk club.

John made his debut for the Tractor Boys in last weekends 2-1 win over Cardiff and said he is keen to leave Selhurst Park and will see what happens in January.

He is contracted with Palace until next summer, with a possible one year extension, but admits that the chances of remaining with Palace are slim with the current financial difficulties at the club.

Derby County are keen to terminate the contract of Australian midfielder Ruben Zadkovich, who was brought to the club by previous manager Paul Jewell, but has spent 10 months out injured and has yet to feature in the first team under current boss Nigel Clough.

Zadkovich has been offered a termination agreement to cover the remaining six months of his contract at Derby and Clough said they are waiting for a response from the player’s agent. The Australian has made seven appearances for Derby since joining the club in April 2008.

Nigel Clough says he is keen to re-sign Everton striker James Vaughan on loan in January. The 21 year old was injured soon after arriving at Pride Park on a previous loan agreement in September.

Vaughan has recovered from surgery on the injured knee and is back in training with Everton and Clough said he is hoping to get him down to the midlands to train with Derby in an effort to re-sign the player on loan in the January window.

The Rams face losing the services of Paul Dickov and DJ Campbell in the New Year, both players are on loan from Leicester City until the end of the year.

Michael Tonge gets loan move to Preston

michael tonge
michael tonge

Stoke midfielder Michael Tonge has agreed a short term loan deal with Championship side Preston, the arrangement will keep the player at Preston until December 28th, after the game with his former club Sheffield United.

Tonge earned his reputation as a key player in Sheffield United’s promotion pushing side in 2002/3,  and while his technical ability has never been questioned, his lack of consistency has often been put under the spotlight.

The 26 year old joined Stoke City from Sheffield United on the last day of the summer transfer window in September 2008 for a fee of £2 million. Tonge has made just three appearances for Stoke this season, all in the Carling Cup competition.

He will join the Preston North End squad for Monday nights clash with Newcastle United.

Dave Kitson joins Middlesbrough on two month loan

200px-Middlesbrough_crestMiddlesbrough have signed striker Dave Kitson from Premier League Stoke City on a two month loan, the second striker to arrive at the Riverside since Gordon Strachan took over as manager of the club.

Kitson will join Birmingham City striker Marcus Bent on loan at Middlesbrough as Strachan attempts to bolster the squad in an attempt to gain automatic promotion back to the Premier League.

Former Reading striker Kitson has scored only two goals in 29 games for Stoke, the player was loaned back to Reading last season and is seriously short of match fitness, having spent much of this season on the Stoke bench.

Kitson could make his debut for Middlesbrough on Saturday at home to Nottingham Forest in the Championship.

Ipswich sign goalkeeper Begovic from Portsmouth, but Stead unsure on future

ipswich town
ipswich town

Ipswich Town have signed goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from Portsmouth on a three month loan deal, the dual nationality Canadian/Bosnian has made four appearances for Pompey this season.

The 22year old arrived at Portsmouth in 2003 and has since enjoyed loan spells with Bournemouth, Macclesfield and Yeovil as well as deputising for David James at Fratton Road.

The goalkeeper made his international debut for Bosnia last Saturday as a late substitute in the World Cup qualifier against Estonia, and has previously played for Canada at the Under-20 World Cup in 2007.

Begovic will be included in the Ipswich squad for Saturday’s game at home to Swansea and will battle for a place with regular keeper Richard Wright at Portman Road.

Meanwhile Ipswich striker Jon Stead who has been assured of his future by Roy Keane, still fears that he may be sold in the January transfer window. The striker has started only four games so far this season and has yet to score a goal, but says he does not want to leave the club.

“He’s sold me before, so it’s been on my mind” says Stead “I’ve only had four starts so far this season, and I’ve been taken off at half-time in some of them, so it’s not been ideal. I haven’t played as well as last season, and I’m not going to pull the wool over my eyes and say any different. Very few of us have played well, week in, week out.”

Stead says he was surprised to read reports in the summer that Ipswich were looking to sell him despite reassurances from Roy Keane that that was not the case. “It was a shock for me to read that I wasn’t going to play for Ipswich again, I had personally spoken to the manager, so I knew that this was not the case, and is still not the case. Therefore the story didn’t affect me because I knew it wasn’t true. I’m still very much involved, and I’m still in the frame.”