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Championship restart date, key fixtures to watch out for

Earlier last week, the EFL confirmed that the Championship clubs had provisionally agreed to restart the league campaign on June 20 following an extended shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league’s governing body have yet to release the schedule for the remaining nine games of the season, but they have accepted to remove the first round of midweek fixtures amid the opposition from some clubs, who have insisted that there is not enough preparation time.

Still, the regular campaign is scheduled to conclude by July 21/22 and it has been reported by The Telegraph‘s John Percy that the Championship play-off final could be held in early August instead of July 30 as initially planned.

While the fixtures are yet to be announced, a number of promotion-chasing clubs will be eagerly anticipating the restart. The focus could lie on league leaders Leeds United, in particular, who are eyeing a return to the top-flight for the first time in 16 years.

West Bromwich Albion are right behind them with a one-point deficit but there is a six-point gap thereafter to third-placed Fulham. The top two appear the favourites to automatically seal promotion to the Premier League but the Cottagers can’t be taken lightly, given they tend to conclude their Championship seasons on a strong note.

Key fixtures in the promotion race:

Brentford vs West Brom

Fulham vs Brentford

Leeds vs Fulham

West Brom vs Fulham

Nottingham Forest vs Fulham

Among the promotion-chasing sides, Preston North End were in a poor run of form before the shutdown and they accumulated just three points from five Championship matches. Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Preston are currently fourth, fifth and sixth respectively on the table but their positions in the top-six are far from assured with just seven points separating the Bees from 11th-placed Swansea City.

Key fixtures in the play-off race:

Blackburn vs Bristol City

Preston vs Cardiff

Preston vs Derby

Nottingham Forest vs Bristol City

Derby vs Nottingham Forest

Bristol City vs Cardiff

Preston vs Nottingham Forest

Brentford vs Preston

Swansea vs Bristol City

The relegation scrap should be enthralling watch with only a three-point margin between 17th-placed Stoke City and Charlton Athletic, who are 22nd on the table. Luton Town and Barnsley are four and five points behind the Addicks respectively, but they still have a realistic chance of beating the drop with nine games left.

Key fixtures in the survival race:

Hull vs Charlton

Huddersfield vs Wigan

Stoke vs Middlesbrough

Wigan vs Stoke

Hull vs Middlesbrough

Stoke vs Barnsley

Luton vs Barnsley

Huddersfield vs Luton

Wigan vs Hull

Hull vs Luton

Charlton vs Wigan

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