THE CHAMPIONSHIP may close its doors for business after Saturday’s action to reconvene after Easter, but there are some crackers for the Yorkshire contingent beforehand.
The North Riding meets the East Riding tonight when Middlesbrough welcome Hull City in a promotion meeting which has major ramifications for both, while West Yorkshire neighbours Leeds United and Huddersfield Town do battle on Saturday.
There is also some choice fare elsewhere, with Bradford City heading over the Pennines to Wigan Athletic and Doncaster Rovers having a monumental home showdown with Peterborough United, Darren Ferguson’s old club.
Middlesbrough v Hull City
Both sides have endured ropey runs and a rough old week, although the media spotlight has been more intense at Middlesbrough following some bizarre and chaotic events which saw Aitor Karanka fall out with senior players ahead of their game at Charlton, storm off and not be on the bench at the unhappy Valley.
His continuation as head coach after some intensive talks between players, staff and chairman Steve Gibson - who has done a very passable impersonation of a UN special envoy - has attempted to re-establish some calm and order.
But the only way to quell the conjecture from a Boro perspective is a win this evening.
In terms of on-pitch results, both sides are showing signs of strain. Boro have won just three in 11 games with Jordan Rhodes having yet to cut the mustard, while Hull have taken just ten points from eight matches, scoring five times. You sense something will give this evening.
Leeds United v Huddersfield Town
Leeds are aiming to create a little piece of history by recording back-to-back league doubles over Town.
United are seeking their fourth successive win for the first time since 2009/10 as they aim to inject further momentum after wins over Blackburn, Cardiff and Bolton and strengthen their claims for a top-ten finish, with the game having come at the right time. Although if the Whites win, Steve Evans would be forgiven for wishing there was no two-week international break.
The game has probably come at a good juncture for Town, too. Last week’s disappointing and pretty self-inflicted loss to Burnley arrived after a decent run of form, if not necessarily results.
It is fair to say that Town’s performances under David Wagner have probably yielded more points that they have accrued.
A case in point being a 3-0 reverse to Leeds at the John Smith’s Stadium and the visiting players won’t need motivating tomorrow. Not that getting pumped up should be an issue on derby day.
Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton Athletic
The Owls, with Fernando Forestieri and Aiden McGeady creating havoc, rediscovered their attacking mojo in a fine weekend win at Nottingham Forest and another convincing performance and result against Charlton would set them fair for a massive April.
That said, there was one development by the Trent which they could have done without - the dismissal of midfield talisman Barry Bannan.
Wednesday have memories of a disappointing result earlier in the season at Charlton to purge and while the absence of Bannan is a blow, much has made of the prowess of the Owls squad and we will find out about the quality control level in the three games which the Scot misses - Charlton, Huddersfield and Blackburn. Carlos Carvalhal remains relaxed in his squad options. Will he be able to rest easy, despite Bannan’s absence?
Doncaster Rovers v Peterborough United
Asked what Rovers need to do to beat his old club Peterborough and Darren Ferguson’s answer was simple. Just win.
It does not matter one iota how Rovers play on Saturday against another side in desperate form in Posh, who have lost six of their last seven games. Doncaster themselves are without a win in 11 and plumbing the depths after taking three points from a possible 33.
It is about heart, attitude, organisation, leadership and bravery now for Rovers, not flowing football. Do they have enough of it to survive at this level.
They need to man up fast ahead of a Easter which sees massive relegation double-headers with Colchester and Blackpool. Sink or swim time..
Wigan Athletic v Bradford City
City are in a good place ahead of the trip over the Pennines with last weekend’s 2-1 win over Doncaster a lot more comfortable than the scoreline suggested with Phil Parkinson even having the luxury of keeping James Hanson on the bench.
Wigan are also flying, but the game is nicely synchronised for Bradford, building a head of steam and with a key home game against Millwall next week, too.
The DW Stadium was where the run to the Capital One Cup final in 2012-13 truly ignited in front of 5,500 claret-and-amber followers. A big result at the same destination tomorrow could provide another springboard.