THE BIG MATCH

Nottingham Forest grabbed the headlines this week when they parted company with manager Alex McLeish after just 41 days, and this weekend Forest are on the road to play Bristol City, who are managed by McLeish's predecessor Sean O'Driscoll.

Forest aren't managerless for what is likely to be an interesting encounter at Ashton Gate, though, after Billy Davies returned to the hot seat on Thursday, two years after he was sacked by the club.

He won't be in the dugout for the match against Bristol City, however, with his work starting on Monday, so Rob Kelly, who was O'Driscoll's assistant at the City Ground, will be in charge.

Kelly will be hoping to arrest the club's slide down the table with three points from their trip to the West Country - they have dropped from eighth, which is where O'Driscoll left them, to 11th, six points off the Play-Offs.

The former midfielder believes every player in the squad will want to shine in front of the returning boss, who will be watching from the stands.

He told the Nottingham Post: "The players have a new manager to impress, they will want to be catching his eye.

"That will be an added motivation. But just three points alone should be enough motivation. We want to win and we want to put on a performance.

"We are still within touching distance of the top six, that is a motivation, but so should the desire to impress the new manager."

O'Driscoll's arrival at Ashton Gate hasn't dramatically improved the Robins' form, with two wins and two losses, but both of those victories came in the two home matches he has been at helm for.

And the 55-year-old is purely focused on getting another three points on the board, rather than the goings-on at the club who controversially sacked him.

"It is just another game and it has to be that way given the position we are in," he explained to the Bristol Post.

"I cannot get emotionally involved in what has gone on at Nottingham Forest in the past.

"If I'm honest, I have enough problems getting my own team ready for Saturday. How can I be more worried about Forest than I am my team?"

O'Driscoll won't be able to pick Louis Carey, Cole Skuse, Ryan Taylor or Neil Kilkenny as they are all sidelined with injuries, while Forest could be without Adlene Guedioura and Daniel Ayala, who will be assessed before the match.

KEEP AN EYE ON

This weekend's npower Championship programme starts at Vicarage Road on Friday night where Watford host Crystal Palace in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

The Hornets and Eagles sit side-by-side in the table, in fourth and fifth respectively, separated by a single point. They both won last time out, too, so will approach the 7.45pm kick-off in high spirits.

Watford beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 and that was their fourth win in five games - form that has seen them rise into the top six and maintain their position.

Crystal Palace, meanwhile, also won 2-1, against rivals Charlton Athletic. The Eagles trailed until the 75th minute but Glenn Murray saved the day when he scored a four-minute brace to end their five-game winless streak.

Goals should be a certainty in the televised fixture with Palace's Murray, the club's leading scorer, and Watford's top marksman Matej Vydra scoring 44 between them so far this term.

Hornets boss Gianfranco Zola has been pleased with Vydra's performances and believes the win his side registered against Bolton was vital before the fixture against Palace.

"You can rely on him [Matej Vydra]," the former Chelsea striker told www.watfordfc.co.uk.

"He is doing something fantastic, his work-rate for the team is immense and he deserves a lot of appreciation.

"It's important that we won a game like that [against Bolton], it gives us confidence for the future, starting with Crystal Palace."

Zola's opposite number Ian Holloway acknowledged the quality in the Watford ranks, but he is confident his side will provide the Hornets with a tough challenge.

They will also be seeking revenge from the reverse fixture earlier in the season, when Watford ran out 3-2 winners at Selhurst Park, which was their first win against Palace since 2008.

The 49-year-old told www.cpfc.co.uk: "Having watched Watford I have to congratulate their manager on their new style and how they're trying to pass it and move.

"They look completely littered with fantastic footballers. We'll be well prepared, I know what they do and how they do it, having to try and stop that is another thing.

"I'm looking forward to the chance of going there and I can't see anything else other than us going there and putting in a good performance."

ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION

Watford and Crystal Palace are currently joined in the npower Championship Play-Off places by Hull City and Middlesbrough, who are both in action on Saturday.

Like their Play-Off rivals, Hull are also playing in front of the cameras, with their match against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium being screened live on Sky Sports.

The match doesn't kick-off until 5.20pm, so Steve Bruce's Tigers will know whether they could move into the automatic promotion spots with three points against the Seagulls - they currently trail second-placed Leicester City, who visit Peterborough United earlier in the day, on goal difference only.

Middlesbrough, meanwhile, have a home match against lowly Barnsley. Tony Mowbray's Boro hold the higher league position, by some distance, but they have lost their last four, while David Flitcroft's ever-improving Tykes have won three of their last four.

If Barnsley triumph on their trip north, Wolverhampton Wanderers will be dragged into the bottom three if they fail to pick up at least a point in their match against Leeds United.

Bolton Wanderers are only one point above Wolves, although they have played a game less, and they will be keen to pull away from the danger zone when they host seventh-placed Burnley. Sean Dyche's men have climbed to within four points of the Play-Offs with a steady run of form, and they haven't lost any of their last four matches away from home.

Derby County and Millwall are locked on 41 points, alongside the Nottingham Forest and Leeds, in the table, and they are on the road to Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool respectively.

The game at Bloomfield Road between the Tangerines and the Lions looks set to be an interesting one, with neither team in a good vein of form. Kenny Jackett's men have dropped down the standings following three successive losses, and just one win in eight, while managerless Blackpool have also tasted victory just once in their last eight outings.

Leaders Cardiff City certainly aren't struggling for form as they have opened up a 10-point lead with six victories in seven. They will be aiming to extend that blistering run when they face Huddersfield Town, who are another side without a permanent manager in charge.

The two remaining games in the npower Championship this weekend see Blackburn Rovers, in 13th, and 14th-placed Charlton Athletic, entertain Ipswich Town and Birmingham City respectively.

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