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Championship Play-offs: Middlesbrough lead the market for promotion

There was a dramatic end to the Championship season with Sunderland climbing over Millwall into sixth place, and the Black Cats will fancy their chances of claiming a second successive promotion, having won the League One play-offs last term.

However, Tony Mowbray's side face a tough semi-final against third-placed Luton, who were one of the losing Championship play-off semi-finalists last season. 

The other semi-final pits fourth-placed Middlesbrough against fifth-placed Coventry, who drew 1-1 against each other at the Riverside on Monday. 

Here is our team-by-team guide on those sides who made the Championship play-offs.


Final position 3rd
Final Points total80
Promotion odds11/4

A strong case can be made for Luton, who are 11/4 to complete a remarkable rise from the National League to the Premier League which started with them winning the fifth tier title in 2013/14. 

The Hatters finished the season on 80 points, 11 more than semi-final opponents Sunderland, and they approach the play-offs on a 14-game unbeaten run. 

Their successful season can be put down to the work of two head coaches - Nathan Jones, who took charge of the first 20 games, and Rob Edwards, who has been in the dugout since mid-November. 

Jones did some sterling work in his second spell with the Bedfordshire club, staving off relegation in 2019/20 and leading them to the play-offs in 2021/22. 

The Welshman worked wonders on a small budget to build a powerful, competitive squad and his efforts have been built upon by Edwards, who quickly overcome any reservations the Luton fans might have had about his short spell in charge of fierce rivals Watford

Edwards favoured a possession-based style at Forest Green, who he led to the League Two title last season, but he has wisely decided against major tactical adjustments with the Hatters and has persisted with the direct approach favoured by his predecessor. 

Getting the ball forward early is perfectly suited to Luton's players, including physical front two Elijah Adebayo and Carlton Morris, who have been an absolute handful for Championship defences. 

Luton have scored enough goals without being prolific and their defensive record (39 goals conceded) is the joint second-best in the division. 

Edwards's side have not conceded more than one goal in any of their last 12 games. 

If they remain watertight at the back, they will have a great chance of going up.


Final position4th
Final points total75
Promotion odds13/8

Middlesbrough have been on course for an extended season for several weeks and their challenge is to get back to the sky-high standards which briefly lifted them into the race for automatic promotion. 

Boro may have a few regrets after getting to within four points of second-placed Sheffield United at the 36-game mark, but they can also look back with a huge amount of pride and positively at the progress they have made since last October when they handed Michael Carrick his first managerial role. 

Carrick took over with Middlesbrough 21st in the table and outside of the drop zone on goal difference. 

His team have gathered 58 points in 30 games, which is in the realms of automatic promotion form, but they have had a dip on the final straight – taking one point from the last available nine. 

Middlesbrough love to get on the front foot and they finished the season with 84 goals, which is only three fewer than champions Burnley

Their centre-forward, Chuba Akpom, topped the second tier scoring charts with 28 goals and he was ably assisted by Aston Villa loanee Cameron Archer and Marcus Forss, who amassed tallies of 11 and ten. 

Boro will be difficult to contain but they can leave themselves open at the back. 

They have shipped 56 goals, the highest among the play-off contenders, and have not kept a clean sheet in eight matches.

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Final position5th
Final points total70
Promotion odds7/2

Reaching the play-offs is beyond the wildest expectations of most Coventry fans but there is no danger of their manager, Mark Robins, settling for just a couple more matches. 

Robins believes there is more to come from the Sky Blues, who had looked like relegation candidates after taking just three points from their opening seven matches. 

Coventry climbed from the foot of the table to the top half between October and November and were ultra-consistent in the final three months of the season, losing just one of 17 matches. 

They made sure of a top six finish with a 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough on Monday and that match will have given them some handy preparation for what lies in store when they visit the Riverside for their play-off semi-final second leg next Wednesday. 

Robins has had to work with a tight budget but has crucially been able to retain his best players, including outstanding striker Victor Gyokeres, who has netted 21 of their 58 goals. 

Gyokeres has attracted a lot of attention from rival clubs and appears certain to be playing higher level football next season, irrespective of Coventry's play-off prospects.


Final position6th
Final points total69
Promotion odds11/4

Sunderland were Wembley play-off victors last season, winning 2-0 against Wycombe in the League One final, and they will be hoping for a similar experience at the national stadium later this month. 

They went into the final round of fixtures in seventh place and needing to bridge a two-point gap between themselves and Millwall

Mowbray's side fulfilled their part of the equation by winning 3-0 at Preston and they soon received the stunning news from south London that the Lions had suffered a 4-3 loss at home to Blackburn. 

The Black Cats are perhaps fortunate to have extended their season with a 69-point tally but they have scope to do some damage to their semi-final opponents Luton thanks to some high quality offensive players. 

Injured centre-forward Ross Stewart has been sorely missed but Manchester United loanee Amad Diallo and winger Jack Clarke are exciting individuals and have posted goal tallies of 13 and nine respectively. 

The pace of Clarke, Diallo and Joe Gelhardt make the Black Cats a threat on the counter-attack but there are a few issues at the back due to injuries to central defenders Danny Batth, Dan Ballard and Aji Alese. 

A makeshift back four helped the Black Cats keep a clean against Preston on Monday but it is less certain that they will cope with Luton's powerful front line.

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