Championship Playoffs: Wild five days in store for quartet of PL hopefuls

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The quartet of teams vying to join Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion as newly-promoted Premier League teams begin a week-long gauntlet this weekend.

Fulham vs. Reading
12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Craven Cottage
2:45 p.m. ET Tuesday at the Madejski Stadium

Fulham is one of the more exciting teams in the Championship, and hasn’t been shut out in league play since Feb. 1. That they’ve only kept two clean sheets during that time period is a concern, but the Cottagers are unbeaten in six matches to finish the regular season. Plenty of credit is due to Tom Cairney and Sone Aluko, who have logged nearly 8,000 minutes to go with 20 combined goals and another 20 combined assists.

There’s little predictable about Reading, which allowed the 15th most goals in 24-team championship but also managed to score 68.

Part of that vaunted attack is Yann Kermorgant, the 35-year-old French attacker who helped spearhead Bournemouth’s promotion two seasons ago. He’ll be key as will goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi and American midfielder Danny Williams, who played the fourth-most minutes of any Reading player this season.

The sides split their two Championship matches this season.

Huddersfield Town vs. Sheffield Wednesday
7 a.m. ET Sunday at John Smith’s Stadium
2:45 p.m. ET Wednesday at Hillsborough Stadium

David Wagner’s Terriers have dropped off a bit since their red-hot start to the season, and the German-American boss enters the playoffs having lost three-in-four and with a 5W-1D-7L record down the stretch.

Wagner was the Championship’s Manager of the Year, and was joined on the awards list by right back Tommy Smith and midfielder Aaron Mooy.

It’s the opposite in the other dugout, where Wednesday used a six-match winning streak to rip into a playoff place. Sure there was a loss to Fulham to close the season, but Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal won’t be sweating that too much.

Wednesday’s balanced team has a number of names familiar to the Premier League, including Jordan Rhodes, Barry Bannan, Steven Fletcher, Gary Hooper, and goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.

May 29 at Wembley Stadium