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Preview: Leeds United vs. Nottingham Forest

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Championship clash between mid-table Leeds and playoff hopefuls Nottingham Forest.

Nottingham Forest's late bid for a playoff place sees them take on Leeds United next as they travel to Elland Road looking to further close the gap on the top six.

Dougie Freedman's arrival has rejuvenated the club, and 19 points from a possible 24 under the Scot have kept alive the possibility of catching Brentford.

Last week's 2-1 defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic was a hiccup, but Forest immediately got back to winning ways last weekend with a come-from-behind victory over title-challenging Middlesbrough at the City Ground.

Nine points is now the gap to make up with 10 games remaining and, while their fate may seem to be out of their own hands, they will have faced the six teams currently directly above them in the table in their last 11 games by the end of the campaign.

That could prove to be a good thing or a bad thing, but with Forest growing in confidence and momentum, they will fancy their chances of successfully negotiating their tricky run-in.

Their away form could do with some improvement, however, with all of Forest's dropped points under Freedman coming on their travels so far.

Jack Hobbs is nearing a return from injury but won't be ready for this match, while Chris Cohen, Andy Reid and Britt Assombalonga remain long-term absentees for the visitors.

Freedman did make his first signing this week in the form of Modou Barrow on loan from Swansea City, and he could feature at some point this weekend, although he is unlikely to start.

For Leeds, they will be glad to have a relatively stress-free end to a tumultuous season, with the threat of relegation now a distant memory and a top-half finish their new goal.

It has been an up-and-down campaign for the Yorkshire outfit, but Forest will be wary that many of those ups having come against teams hoping for promotion.

The Whites have done the double over both Bournemouth and Middlesbrough as well as beating Derby County and Ipswich Town this season, so they could end up having as big a say on the promotion race as anyone.

Neil Redfearn has brought an element of consistency to his side in recent months, with seven wins in their last 10 games and only three defeats in their 12 league matches since the turn of the year.

Consistency is not a word that you can associate with their home form, however, with Redfearn's side having alternated between wins and defeats in their last five outings at Elland Road.

The latest of those came in a 2-1 triumph over Ipswich last week, a result they backed up with a 1-0 victory over struggling Wigan Athletic at the weekend.

Alex Mowatt scored in both of those games and has found the net in each of the club's last four victories, so should be in line for another start this weekend.

He could be rejoined in midfield by Rodolph Austin and Sam Byram, both of whom will undergo late fitness tests. Liam Cooper is also back available after injury, while Billy Sharp is expected to keep his spot up front.


Recent form: WWLLWW

Possible starting lineup: Silvestri; Wootton, Cooper, Bamba, Taylor; Mowatt, Murphy, Byram, Austin, Cook; Sharp

Nottm Forest:

Recent form: DWWWLW

Possible starting lineup: Darlow; Lichaj, Lascelles, Collins, Fox; Lansbury, Osborn, Burke, Gardner, Antonio; Blackstock

Sports Mole says: 1-2

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Wigan manager Malky Mackay gives instructions during the Sky Bet Championship match between Reading and Wigan Athletic at Madejski Stadium on February 17, 2015
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