We’ve picked out the top Championship fixtures over Easter

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It’s make or break time in the Championship.

Every side in England’s second-tier has either eight or nine games left. Almost all of those matches will have something riding on them.

That makes the Easter weekend a crucial period for teams in the second division.

We’ve identified the fixtures to keep an eye out for among the 24-match cluster…

Good Friday/Easter Saturday

The opening match of the Easter extravaganza sees play-off chasing Millwall host Nottingham Forest at The Den.

Victory for the Lions will put them within touching distance of sixth-spot, if only temporarily. Neil Harris’s side are 10/11 to extend their unbeaten run to nine matches and collect all three points.

Bristol City are also in top-six contention. They travel to relegation-threatened Barnsley to face Oakwell at 3pm.

The hosts have won just twice since the beginning of November and are in serious danger of making a return to League One.

However, they could salvage some points at home to the Robins. Lee Johnson’s men are winless in 10 away from home and have only picked up 14 points in the league since Boxing Day.

You can back the draw at 9/4, City at 27/20 or the hosts at 2/1.

Meanwhile, in Wales, Cardiff City are 2/5 to extend their winning run to eight matches at home to relegation battlers Burton Albion.

Sunderland (11/2) face a similarly tough task at Pride Park against Derby County (8/15).

Their North-East neighbours Middlesbrough are unbeaten since the 2nd of February and host Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Riverside. Boro are 7/4 to taste victory against the champions-elect (33/20).

Elsewhere, Brentford host Sheffield United at Griffin Park, Fulham travel to Norwich City and Hull City face fourth-place Aston Villa.

Easter Monday/Tuesday

Gary Rowett’s Derby kick-off the April fixtures with a vital clash at Deepdale against Preston North End.

Both sides harbour realistic play-off ambitions and will be eager to steal a lead in the race for the top-six.

Alex Neil’s side have only lost twice at home since the start of November and will fancy their chances against a Rams side who have drawn four of their last five on the road.

County’s Midlands neighbours Burton face a second tough test in as many matches as they take on Middlesbrough at the Pirelli Stadium.

The Brewers have the Championship’s worst home record with only 10 points collected on their own patch all season long.

Tony Pulis’ visitors, on the other hand, boast the division’s seventh most impressive away form.

The Riverside club won the reverse fixture 2-0 earlier in the season and should make light work of their hosts here.

The big match of the day takes place at Bramall Lane as Sheffield United host Cardiff City in a match that could have huge top-six ramifications.

Both clubs retain firm ambitions of reaching the Premier League. Victory in the 7:45pm kick-off for either side could go a long way to satisfying those.

Chris Wilder’s men were unbeaten in three prior to Friday night, while Neil Warnock’s visitors have not lost on the road since New Year’s Day.

On Tuesday, Aston Villa face Reading, Fulham take on Leeds United and Wolves tackle Hull City.

But it’s Bolton Wanderers’ home clash with Birmingham City that takes top billing.

Both sides are embroiled in a relegation dogfight down the bottom and require three points to ease the pressure ahead of the final run-in.

Tuesday’s hosts have improved of late and are unbeaten in three in all competitions as of Friday. City, too, have looked better recently following the appointment of Garry Monk.

The Blues have won on their last two visits to the Macron Stadium by one goal to nil. Neither side will want to give an inch this time around either. Expect another tight clash.

All Stats, Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication

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