“West Bromwich Albion appear to have the ingredients, including humility, to win the league.

“Leeds are an excellent side but, as a club, their attitude may cost them automatic promotion like it has in the past few seasons.

“Nottingham Forest, despite a loss to Charlton, offer something different and will be a threat.

“Fulham are on a good run of form at the moment and will be determined to put right their disastrous campaign last year where their points return, in relation to money spent, was worse than the Derby side of 2007/08. Preston can’t be counted out either in a very tight division.

“It would be a very Brentford thing to do for the last league game at Griffin Park to not actually be the last first team game there.

“Everyone knows that promotion would be the perfect way to say goodbye. I believe a fairytale finish may be on the cards.”

Key man: Ollie Watkins

5= West Brom

Average points per game of remaining opponents = 1.34

Fixtures: Nottingham Forest (H), Bristol City (A), Preston (H), Wigan (A), Swansea (A), Birmingham (H),

Brentford (A), Sheffield Wednesday (A), Hull (H), Derby (H), Blackburn (A), Fulham (H), Huddersfield (A), QPR (H).

Fan view – David Hanley

“After a tricky couple of months, West Brom seem to be on an upward curve again.

“Playing Luton came at a very opportune time and the points were very welcome. Millwall away was a very encouraging performance; a tricky game and a bit of a bogey team. We played very well and everyone stepped up and the win was well deserved.

“I think it sent a statement to the rest of the Championship.

Charlie Austin has scored nine goals in 27 appearances for the Baggies

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Charlie Austin has scored nine goals in 27 appearances for the Baggies

“As far as the run-in is concerned, we’ve got a strong squad with healthy competition for places due to some promising January signings. Aside from the Nathan Ferguson issue, team spirit appears to be good and confidence buoyant.

“Teams dropping points everywhere but the run-in looks good.  Nothing can be taken for granted but on our day we are capable of beating anyone in this league.

“Main challengers?  Probably Brentford (who played very well at our place) and Fulham who are coming into form.

“Leeds seem to be imploding and Bristol City will be close at the finish. I think we will go up as champions.”

Key man: Mattheus Pereira

4. Preston

Average points per game of remaining opponents = 1.39

Fixtures: Millwall (H), Hull (H), West Brom (A), Fulham (A), QPR (H), Luton (A), Cardiff (H), Derby (H), Huddersfield (A), Sheffield Wednesday (A), Nottingham Forest (H), Brentford (A), Birmingham (H), Bristol City (A)

Manager view – Alex Neil

“Every team goes through really good spells and bad spells.

“We are going through a good spell at the moment and we need to make sure that lasts as long as possible.

“If we can continue that between now and the end of the season, we will give ourselves a really good chance.”

Alex Neil has done an outstanding job at Preston

getty images

Alex Neil has done an outstanding job at Preston

3. Fulham

Average points per game of remaining opponents = 1.41

Fixtures: Barnsley (H), Derby (A), Swansea (H), Preston (H), Bristol City (A), Brentford (H), Leeds (A), QPR (A), Birmingham (H), Nottingham Forest (A), Cardiff (H), West Brom (A), Sheffield Wednesday (H), Wigan (A)

Fan view – James Andrew

“With Leeds drawing at Brentford and Nottingham Forest losing against Charlton, the draw at Millwall definitely feels like an opportunity missed for Fulham.

“From a Fulham point of view, I think it is fair to say it has been a bit disappointing, that might sound strange to say for a side sitting in third, but at no point have Fulham really looked like the third-best side in the Championship.

“Yet somehow, they are and not only that, they are level on points with second place Leeds.

With the players that Fulham kept hold of in the summer – most notably Aleksandar Mitrovic – and the ones they brought in like Ivan Cavaleiro, Anthony Knockaert and Bobby Decordova-Reid that there was a very strong squad, on paper at least, that should challenge for automatic promotion.

“In terms of the rest of the season, Fulham look to have a tough run-in. They still have to go to West Brom, Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City and also face Brentford and Preston at home, so it will not be easy.

“My gut feeling is that if Fulham are to be promoted then they will have to get into the top two to do so.

“Level on points with Leeds in second and Mitrovic with 21 goals already this season then that is very possible.

“It will be a nervy run-in as Fulham have not beaten a side by more than one goal since the end of November and while on a good run of results at the moment – six unbeaten in the league – it has not looked convincing.

“I wouldn’t fancy Fulham over two legs against many of the teams in and around the top six at the moment.

“As for the other teams, West Brom look the strongest side, despite their recent wobble and should go up automatically.

Fulham fans are thankful the club managed to keep hold of Aleksandar Mitrovic in the summer

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Fulham fans are thankful the club managed to keep hold of Aleksandar Mitrovic in the summer

“Leeds look like they are missing some firepower upfront, in the times I have seen him this season Patrick Bamford has looked unconvincing.

“And their end of season dip in form seems to have come earlier than normal, and so if they can address that then they may be able to cling onto second place.

“Brentford look really impressive going forward. The front three of Said Benrahma, Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins – or the BMW – look like the strongest attack in the division.

“It would not surprise me if they made a real push for second place, but they are a young team and that inexperience could cost them at the business end of the season.

“Sabri Lamouchi really looks to have got something going at the City Ground and Nottingham Forest really look like they are on the charge.

“Defeat by Charlton in midweek is a setback but with Lewis Grabban upfront and Sammy Ameobi and the returning Tyler Walker supporting him, they look strong.

“Preston seem to be the quite side of the top six, not really being talked about but consistent and around the top six for much of the season and could be the dark horse of the play-off race.

Behind them, Bristol City and Cardiff are lurking, ready to pounce on any slip-ups.

“If I were to give a prediction now, I would go with: automatic: West Brom and Brentford, play-offs: Leeds, Fulham, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City.

Key man: Aleksandar Mitrovic

2. Bristol City

Average points per game of remaining opponents = 1.46

Fixtures: Leeds (A), West Brom (H), Huddersfield (A), Millwall (A), Fulham (H), Blackburn (A), Sheffield Wednesday (H), Nottingham Forest (A), Cardiff (H), Hull (H), Middlesbrough (A), Stoke (H), Swansea (A), Preston (H)

Pundit view – Kevin Phillips

“Lee Johnson, again, he’s been there quite a few years and has been close to the play-offs.

“He’s been under pressure at times but they’ve stuck by him and he’s done a great job.

“He always seems to get results, and again tonight [against Derby].

“He has done a wonderful job and it wouldn’t surprise me if they do secure a play-off spot.”

Bristol City have a good chance of reaching the play-offs

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Bristol City have a good chance of reaching the play-offs

Key man: Niclas Eliasson

Fixtures: West Brom (A), QPR (H), Cardiff (A), Middlesbrough (A), Millwall (H), Sheffield Wednesday (A), Huddersfield (H), Bristol City (H), Derby (A), Fulham (H), Preston (A), Swansea (H), Barnsley (A), Stoke (H)

“When I signed here for one year, I knew the background of the old manager [Martin O’Neill], but my first goal was to finish the season.

“I will probably finish the season and that is a good sign. Now, I just want to compete. We are working hard every day for the best result.

“Fourteen games is not too many, but after 32 games you are physically tired, mentally tired, we need to refresh some players, put some fresh legs in the squad and the team. Keep going, keep working.”


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