Ricky Charlesworth: Can Sheffield Wednesday catch up with promotion-chasing Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Hull City?

The race for promotion is hotting up in the Championship.
The race for promotion is hotting up in the Championship.
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The Broad Acres has rarely had it so good when it comes to the race for the Premier League.

Three of our region's sides currently occupy slots in the top six of the Championship but as many as five could be in with a realistic chance of being in the mix-up come May.

Leeds United, Sheffield United and Middlesbrough are all in the driving seat in terms of league positions at present, sitting second, third and fifth respectively in the standings.

Coming up on the outside are a resurgent Hull City, who have been in breathtaking form for the past few months and are stalking those in the top six.

And who can rule out Sheffield Wednesday, especially with new manager Steve Bruce now (finally) in situ at Hillsborough?

Upon his unveiling, Bruce refused to rule out a late surge to the play-offs despite the numbers seemingly not favouring his new employers.

"You can never write the script in the Championship," he said

"Nothing is a given and that is the beauty of it.

"That (promotion) has to be the aim - it is why I keep working on."

His first game saw Wednesday seal a late winner against Ipswich last weekend to seal a result that trimmed the deficit between themselves and the play-off pack into single digits.

So is that nine-point gap insurmountable?

Certainly, stranger things have happened.

You only have to look at Hull's remarkable swing in form recently for a relevant example.

One defeat in 12 for Nigel Adkins' side has propelled them to within three points of the play-off picture.

It was a different story altogether back in November when a 2-0 reversal at home to Nottingham Forest saw them slump to 23rd in the table.

But a terrific run of form has seen them shoot up the league and puts them in with a very real shot of being in the end-of-season shake-up.

As for the aforementioned trio of clubs currently sitting in the top six, they all know that there will be little margin for error especially with so many teams waiting to pounce and steal their top-six berth.

Almost each week throws up at least one tantalising fixture.

This weekend that headline-grabbing clash comes at the Riverside when Middlesbrough host Leeds.

Just three days later Boro hit the road for the short trip to Bramall Lane before United travel to fellow high-fliers West Bromwich Albion on February 23.

For added spice, between now and the end of the season there are still 11 Yorkshire derbies to be contested - with the possibility of a few more depending on the final league standings and subsequent play-off fixtures.

Just a few of the clashes to whet the appetite include the Steel City derby at Hillsborough on March 4, the Blades' visit of Rotherham five days later and Wednesday's trip to Leeds on April 13.

And on the final day, Rotherham's home game against Boro could have consequences at both ends of the spectrum.

It all adds up to an exciting Spring for clubs in our neck of the woods.

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