Karanka makes Forest exit

Nottingham Forest have parted company with head coach Aitor Karanka, with the club just outside the Championship play-off places.

The 45-year-old took charge at the City Ground in January 2018, having previously guided Middlesbrough to promotion to the Premier League in 2016.

Karanka started his senior coaching career as an assistant at Real Madrid, the club where he spent five years as a player, in between two spells with Athletic Bilbao.

A short statement from Forest confirmed: "Aitor Karanka has asked to be released from his contract as the manager of Nottingham Forest Football Club.

"The club have agreed to this request and the terms of departure have been agreed. Both parties wish each other every success for the future and there will be no further comment from either party."

Forest, currently seventh in the table, have only won one of their last six Championship games, but that victory came last time out when they saw off table-toppers Leeds United 4-2 at the City Ground.

Following that, what turned out to be Karanka's last game in charge came in a 2-0 FA Cup third round defeat at Chelsea.

The Midlanders are back in action on Saturday when they travel to lowly Reading, with the visitors side 6/5 to win the game, while the draw is priced at 12/5 and a 1-1 final scoreline is available at 5/1.

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Mowbray ponders his options

Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray hopes that fatigue will not be a problem when his team take on table-topping Leeds United.

Elliott Bennett missed Saturday's game against Norwich City because of a foot injury, while Charlie Mulgrew and Harrison Reed could miss the trip to West Yorkshire.

Reed picked up an injury in the match but was forced to play on as Mowbray had already used all three of his substitutes.

"I hope I don't regret not taking Harrison off," Mowbray admitted. "He was in the middle of the pitch and couldn't run. Injuries are part of football though and we have to get on with it.

"Lots of players are struggling. There are a lot of aching bodies out there having put in the work they have done. When you play against a team like Norwich, a team who keep the ball, it's a really intense concentration and effort day.

"We'll get the bodies recovered and see who we have available for the trip to Elland Road on Boxing Day."

Blackburn are 11/2 to beat Leeds United and 16/1 to win the Championship clash 2-1.

McClaren issues Leeds claim

Steve McClaren expects Leeds United to be in the Championship promotion chase this season after they edged out his QPR side 2-1 on Saturday.

The 57-year-old former England manager thought he had engineered a successful away-day at Elland Road when Nahki Wells put the R's in front during the first half.

However, Kemar Roofe equalised on the stroke of half-time before grabbing a second from the penalty spot eight minutes after the break to seal the win for Marco Bielsa's side.

The win keeps the Whites second in the Championship behind Norwich, while they are five points clear of third-placed Sheffield United with just over half of the season remaining.

McClaren is predicting a clutch of teams breaking away to fight it out for automatic promotion and play-off places in the second half of the season and he is sure Leeds will remain firmly in contention.

He said: "It was a strange league to start with. It was very even, I think now you're starting to see six, seven, eight teams coming through, Aston Villa being one of them.

"I expect Stoke (will feature) as well. A lot of big clubs and only three can go up. There's going to be a lot of disappointed clubs at the end of the season with big expectations who won't make it. And I think we're beginning to see the pressure of that.

"You'll see as the season goes on and it'll be who handles the pressure the most and the best. Not just in terms of management but in terms of squad players, and Leeds are going to be up there, without a shadow of a doubt."

Leeds are 2/1 to win the Championship title this season, while they are priced at 4/6 to win promotion.

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Adkins tips Leeds for promotion

Nigel Adkins is in no doubt that Leeds United will be promoted to the Premier League after they defeated his Hull City side 1-0 on Tuesday.

The Tigers' boss was disappointed that his players could not hold out against Marcelo Bielsa's Whites at the KCOM Stadium as Tyler Roberts' effort from just outside the area on 51 minutes was enough to hand the visitors all three points.

The win took Leeds back to the top of the Championship above Middlesbrough on goal difference after they won 2-0 at lowly Ipswich.

Adkins accepted that Leeds were the better side with the majority of possession and 11 shots at goal, while he expects them to be one of the teams who win automatic promotion to the Premier League alongside Boro who Hull held to a 1-1 home draw at the weekend.

"I thought we've probably played against one of the best sides I've seen in the Championship for many years," he said.

"They're an excellent side. I really enjoyed the challenge. We've changed our shape three or four times, they've had to change their shape. You can see how expansive they can go and play and how quick and they're going to take teams to the cleaners.

"From our point of view I'm very disappointed that we've conceded a goal from so far out, that's ultimately given them the game. We managed to make sure we stayed in the game but it was a really good tactical game."

Adkins added: "If you think we're on an even playing field, we're not. We've just played against a really good side. We've just played Middlesbrough at the weekend and picked up a result there.

"Middlesbrough and Leeds play two total different games of football and both of them will probably be in the top two in the season."

Leeds are 5/1 to win the Championship and are 11/8 to be promoted, while Middlesbrough are priced at 5/1 and 6/5 respectively.

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Missed chances annoy Bielsa

Marcelo Bielsa wants his Leeds United side to be more clinical in front of goal after watching them draw 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday.

Adam Reach gave the Owls the lead in Friday's Championship clash at Hillsborough with a superb long-range volley but United equalised after the interval when Mateusz Klich netted with another spectacular effort.

Samu Saiz almost grabbed a late winner for Leeds, who missed a hatful of presentable chances during the Yorkshire derby.

Bielsa said after the match: "I am truly disappointed. I don't like to judge the performance of the opponents, but the fact that we needed 25 chances to score talks about what we deserved.

"Usually, we need three chances to score one goal and this statistic is common to teams that lead their competition. Against Birmingham in the previous game we needed eight chances to score and against Wednesday we needed 25.

"I'm glad that the fans celebrated Klich's goal because he deserves the celebration from the fans.

"When you evaluate the performance of the team and you look at the number of chances, you can't say that we're satisfied with the result."

Leeds United can be backed at 13/8 to be promoted this season while Sheffield Wednesday are available at 20/1 to go up.

Monk revels in shock win

Birmingham City manager Garry Monk was thrilled to record a first Championship win of the season against his former club Leeds United.

The Blues had failed to win any of their first eight league matches but produced a magnificent display at Elland Road as they clinched a 2-1 victory against the league leaders.

Che Adams scored twice in the first half-hour for Monk's team who held on for the three points despite Ezgjan Alioski's late goal for Leeds.

Marco Bielsa's team are now 6/4 to be promoted this season, while Middlesbrough are 6/4 to go up, West Brom 11/10 and Stoke City 6/1.

An elated Monk said afterwards: "I am so pleased for the players and our fans, they've deserved that for a very long time.

"Against the top of the league team and with a massive, passionate crowd, we knew it was going to be difficult.

"To do that against the best side in the league so far this season is a testament to the players, their character, their belief.

"We decided to bring Gary Gardner off but it is just a knock, just a kick. I don't think it's anything serious."

Bamford blow for Leeds

Leeds United have been hit by the news summer signing Patrick Bamford has been ruled out for four months because of a posterior cruciate ligament injury.

The 25-year-old striker only moved to Elland Road from Middlesbrough in the transfer window for an initial £7million fee, but he has struggled for first-team action because of the form of Kemar Roofe in the Whites' unbeaten start which sees them lead the Championship on goal difference after six games.

Bamford has yet to score in five Championship appearances coming off the substitutes' bench, while he has started their two Carabao Cup games, scoring once in the 2-1 win against Bolton.

He was given a run-out in last Friday's Under-23 game against Bristol City where he suffered a knee injury which the club have confirmed will sideline him until the New Year.

Club director of football Victor Orta said: "This is clearly disappointing news for Patrick and for everyone at Leeds United.

"Patrick has settled in well, quickly becoming an important player for Marcelo Bielsa and a popular part of the group.

"We have an excellent medical team at the club and Patrick is in the best possible hands, he will be back available to us during an important part of the season and he will still play a key role in our campaign."

Leeds' head of medicine and performance Rob Price added: "Patrick is a very fit footballer and whilst this is a setback for all concerned, we have spoken to some of the best consultants in the country to make the correct diagnosis quickly.

"My team will work with Patrick to get him back involved with the first team as fast as possible."

Leeds, who are 9/2 to win the Championship this season, return to action on Saturday with a trip to Millwall, where they are 23/20 to pick up three points. The Lions are priced at 23/10 to win and the draw is 12/5.

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Bielsa anticipates tough test

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa is expecting a very difficult and tough game when his side face Middlesbrough on Friday.

The two top teams in the Championship have both won four and drawn one of their first five matches with Leeds having scored more goals than any other side in the division and Boro having the best defensive record.

Bielsa said ahead of the Elland Road fixture: "Middlesbrough are an important rival, there is no doubt about that, and it will be a very difficult and tough game.

"Middlesbrough's style is well known and their head coach (Tony Pulis) is a legend in English football.

"Liam Cooper has a chance of playing on Friday and Adam Forshaw will be available again after the international break. I don't know if Tom Pearce or Jamie Shackleton will be available or not yet though."

Boro have started the campaign well despite selling the likes of Ben Gibson, Adama Traore and Patrick Bamford over the summer and they are 5/2 to win at Elland Road and 11/8 to be promoted this term.

Kemar Roofe is 8/5 to score at any time in the match for a Leeds side that are available at 6/5 to win the top-of-the-table clash.

McClaren appeals for fans help

Steve McClaren says his QPR team need the help of their fans as they try to recover from a poor start to the new Championship season.

Along with Reading, the Hoops are bottom of the table having lost all three league games so far. Their most recent defeat was a 7-1 humbling at West Brom to leave McClaren under pressure to rapidly improve the team's fortunes.

They face Bristol City at Loftus Road on Tuesday night who haven't had a great start themselves but, as QPR seek their first points, McClaren is clear that the home fans have a role to play.

He told local media: "We have to react on Tuesday and make sure that doesn't happen again.

"They'll need help from the fans on Tuesday night. Everybody's hurting. Let's see how they (the players) react after being hurt, which is key in the process.

"The key thing is what we do now. I've got to use all my experience in the game. I've had downs before and situations like this and we have to find the solutions."

QPR are 29/20 to get the three points on Tuesday with Bristol City 21/10 while the draw is 12/5.

The match is one of four Championship fixtures on Tuesday night. In contrast to QPR Leeds have won all three of their games so far, the only side in the league with a 100% record.

They have the chance to make it four from four with a trip to south Wales to take on Swansea who have also made a decent start as they try to gain promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

The other games see Derby host Ipswich and there is a Yorkshire derby with Rotherham playing Hull.

QPR are 15/8 to be relegated at the end of the season while Leeds are 4/1 to be promoted as champions.

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Bielsa relieved to extend record

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa admitted his side had not been at their best on Saturday in the 2-0 derby victory over Rotherham United.

Second-half goals from Luke Ayling and Kemar Roofe made it four wins out of four for Leeds who are 13/8 to be promoted this season.

However, Bielsa accepted that the Millers, 11/10 to be relegated from the Championship in 2018/19, were the better side in the first half and could easily have been ahead at the interval.

"The problems we had during the first half were more linked to our own goal," said Bielsa. "The first half would have been better if Rotherham didn't have the offensive action that they had.

"We built too much from the back, it was not easy for us to go from a defensive position to an offensive one. Unlike the two first games, this looked more like a Championship game.

"We could have ended the first half conceding goals, Rotherham had three clear moments where they could have scored a goal and these actions were provoked by the mistakes we made.”