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Championship: Play-off fight ferocious behind Fulham

The Championship play-off race is hotting up and is typically congested, with all the contenders in the wake of leaders Fulham.

Here we assess the challengers who are all aiming to finish in the top six, before going on to feature in football’s richest game come May.

Cottagers clear at the top

Fired on by the record-breaking Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham have managed to create distance between themselves and the chasing pack at the top of the table.

The Serbian notched his 31st goal of the season in a 1-0 win over Hull, equalling Ivan Toney's record-breaking season from last year with 16 games still to play.

The Whites are now six points clear of Bournemouth at the top, with the Cherries having pulled off a big comeback against Blackpool on Saturday, netting twice in the last five minutes to earn a 2-1 victory.

The pair are five and 11 points respectively clear of Blackburn Rovers in third and also have a game in hand on Rovers, with Fulham 1/6 to be crowned champions, while Bournemouth are 13/2.

Championship Standings

3Blackburn Rovers3153
4Queens Park Rangers3052
5Huddersfield Town3250
7Nottingham Forest3147
8Sheffield United2946
9West Brom3045

Wilder working wonders at Boro

Chris Wilder was brought in after the departure of Neil Warnock and has improved this Middlesbrough side considerably.

The north east team topped their impressive league form off with a win in the FA Cup over Manchester United and are up to sixth after beating Derby County 4-1 on Saturday.

The young group of Isiah Jones, Marcus Tavernier and Matt Crooks have been impressive and have been key players in firing the Boro up the table.

Wilder’s side are one of the form teams in the division and with a few more contributions from on-loan strikers Aaron Connolly and Folarin Balogun, look like live contenders for the top six, they are now 4/7 to make the play-offs.

QPR hampered by Tykes loss

QPR had been going great guns in the Championship before a 1-0 defeat to bottom side Barnsley this weekend halted them in their tracks.

Mark Warbuton's men have been strong at home this season and will need to improve their away form if they are to maintain their position in the top six, they are currently fourth and are 4/7 to reach the play-offs this year.

Long unbeaten run has Terriers challenging

Two of the play-off contenders faced off in the early kick-off in the Championship on Saturday and there was no way through for either side as Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town played out a goalless draw.

The Terriers have now gone 12 league games unbeaten and are up to fifth, defying expectations after they narrowly stayed up on the final day of last season.

The oddsmakers aren't convinced however, with the Terriers still available at 9/2 to make the top six despite their good recent form.

Outsiders in with a shot

Nottingham Forest are another side who have improved under new management, with Steve Cooper working wonders at the Midlands club. The Reds are currently seventh and 9/4 to make the play-offs this year.

Coventry City started the season very strongly but have experienced some unlucky defeats in recent weeks, they are down to 12th as a result and can be backed at 10/3 to make the top six despite beating Reading 3-2 this weekend.

Preston’s late winner against Peterborough on Saturday saw them leapfrog some of their rivals and North End are certainly enjoying life under new boss Ryan Lowe, they are available at 20/1 to finish in the play-off places.

Change of approach for Baggies

West Brom began the season among the favourites for promotion straight back to the Premier League, but a run of one win in eight games saw Valerien Ismael depart.

Steve Bruce, who has previously managed at both Birmingham City and Aston Villa has been brought in but experienced no new manager bounce, as his side were beaten 2-0 by Sheffield United in his first game in charge.

The 61-year-old has gained promotion from this division three times, with Birmingham City in 2002 and then with Hull City twice, in 2012/13 and 2015/16 and Bruce's current side are 4/5 to finish in the top six.

Albion face wobbling Rovers

The Monday evening Championship fixture sees Bruce and his West Brom side host Blackburn, who remain third despite faltering somewhat in recent weeks.

Tony Mowbray's men have won just one of their last five games, including defeats at the hands of Hull, Nottingham Forest and Swansea City and have been uncharacteristically goal-shy in that run, scoring just once.

Ben Brereton Diaz did much of the goal-getting for the side early in the season and hasn't hit the ground running since his return from international duty.

His side have also failed to step up in his absence and the lack of goals from across the side is arguably Rovers' biggest issue.

West Brom are 4/5 to further the away side's woes on Monday night, while the draw is 13/5 and Rovers are 7/2.

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