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Championship play-off preview: Middlesbrough v Norwich

The line-up for the 2015/16 Premier League season will be complete on Monday evening as Middlesbrough and Norwich face off in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final.

Playing in a game dubbed the most lucrative in world football, Deloitte report that promotion for Boro would be worth 130m and at least 80m for Norwich. The Canaries are still entitled to parachute payments, which explains the difference in figures between the teams.

Both clubs are well equipped for promotion and have tasted Premier League football before – Norwich as recently as last season, while Middlesbrough were relegated from the top flight in 2009.

Having been in and out of the top two for the majority of the season, finishing fourth was a disappointment to Boro and the fact that they have failed to win in four appearances at Wembley also will leave lingering doubts about their ability to get over the line.

The form of on-loan Chelsea man Patrick Bamford has played a major role in their surge towards the Premier League but the Championship Player of the Season is facing a race against time to be fit for this clash.

Middlesbrough’s striker missed their 3-0 semi-final second-leg win over Brentford and is a doubt with an ankle injury.

That victory over the Bees was the 22nd time this season the excellent Middlesbrough back four had kept a clean sheet and two of those came against Norwich in a 4-0 win at the Riverside Stadium and a gritty 1-0 success at Carrow Road.

However, previous results count for little in a game like the play-off final and Norwich go into the clash as slight favourites after a fantastic second half to the season.

New manager Alex Neil inspired the renaissance as the Canaries won 15 of their last 22 games to end the season in third having been out of the play-offs when Neil took over in January. Since taking the reins, the Norwich manager has yet to suffer a defeat on the road as his boys can boast the joint-best away record in the Championship.

Norwich, who have striker Lewis Grabban is available again after completing a ban, brushed aside Ipswich in the semi-finals, winning 4-2 on aggregate, meaning that Neil's side have only lost one of their last 13 games – although that defeat was the 1-0 reverse to Boro in April.

Betting

Norwich have been popular with Sky Bet to land promotion in the 90 minutes at 7/5 with the big pitch likely to suit their attacking play while organised Middlesbrough can be backed at 19/10.

Bamford is the man everyone wants to be on in the first goalscorer market with punters lapping up the 6/1 available and there has been similar support for Cameron Jerome to notch first, also at 6/1.


Headlines for Championship this week

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  • Championship play-off preview: Middlesbrough v Norwich


  • The line-up for the 2015/16 Premier League season will be complete on Monday evening as Middlesbrough and Norwich face off in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final.

  • Sky sources: Blackburn's Josh King wanted by Bournemouth


  • Bournemouth are keen to sign Josh King from Blackburn Rovers, according to Sky sources.

  • Aitor Karanka relishing Wembley trip with Middlesbrough


  • Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka insists he did not expect to be leading his side out at Wembley for the Sky Bet Championship play-off final when he took charge at the Riverside.

  • Norwich boss Alex Neil looking forward to another play-off final


  • Norwich manager Alex Neil is hoping to hit the play-off lottery jackpot twice in 12 months.

  • Birmingham City goalkeeper Darren Randolph is to leave the club


  • Birmingham have confirmed that goalkeeper Darren Randolph is leaving the club after turning down a new contract.

  • Dimi Konstantopoulos eager to repay Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka


  • Dimi Konstantopoulos is determined to reward Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka for his faith as he attempts to help the club finally regain its place in the Barclays Premier League.

  • Craig Morgan and Ben Pringle reject new deals at Rotherham


  • Craig Morgan and Ben Pringle have rejected new contracts at Rotherham and will leave the club on free transfers.

  • Brentford turn down Milton Keynes Dons transfer bid for striker Will Grigg


  • MK Dons have seen an initial bid for Brentford's Will Grigg turned down, according to Sky sources.

  • Richard O'Donnell joins Wigan from Walsall


  • Wigan have announced their second signing of the summer with the capture of Walsall goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell.

  • Championship keeps pace as fourth most watched league in Europe


  • The Sky Bet Championship is set to retain its place as the fourth most watched league in Europe.

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