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Friday 15 Mar 2019
BATW| Weekend preview - Craig Cathcart and Shane Ferguson aiming to progress in FA Cup

Northern Ireland defender Craig Cathcart should be back in the Watford side this weekend for their FA quarter-final tie with Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road.

The 30-year-old was rested for the Hornets' 3-1 Premier League defeat at Manchester City last Saturday in preparation for the visit of Roy Hodgson’s side who beat them in the semi-final of the competition in 2016. 

Northern Ireland’s only other representative in the last eight is Shane Ferguson whose Millwall side entertain Premier League outfit Brighton & Hove Albion. 

Ferguson has been a regular starter for the Championship side in recent weeks and he already has two goals in this season’s competition after scoring a brace in the 2-1 defeat of Hull City in the third round in January. 

Stuart Dallas’ last start for Leeds United came in a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United at the start of December. This Saturday the two clubs, who are second and third in the Championship, meet again at Elland Road with the 27-year-old hoping for a place in the first eleven after coming on as a substitute in each of United’s last five matches.  

Elsewhere, exciting young defender Jamal Lewis, whose Norwich City side are two points clear at the top of the Championship, travel to relegation-threatened Rotherham United who will again be without Kyle Vassellwho is sidelined with a groin problem. 

George Saville and Paddy McNair will both be hoping to feature in Middlesbrough’s game at Aston Villa after Tony Pulis’ charges look to get back to winning ways after two successive league defeats.

Second-from-bottom Bolton Wanderers face a mammoth game tomorrow when they visit Wigan Athletic who are two places and seven points above them in the table. Striker Josh Magennis, who has seven goals for the Trotters this term, will be seeking to end his barren run in front of goal which has now lasted 12 games. 

In League One, Sunderland striker Will Grigg has managed just two goals in nine games since his big-money move from Wigan in January, but manager Jack Ross is still pleased with the 27-year-old’s all-round performances since his arrival.

“In general, I have been pleased with how he has played,” declared Ross. “In just about every game, except Tuesday, he has had opportunities in front of goal.

“In a strange way, I’d be more concerned if he hadn’t had any opportunities because either we would not have been making them or he wouldn’t have been getting into those positions.”

The Black Cats entertain Walsall this weekend with Grigg again likely to lead the line with central defender Tom Flanagan back in contention for a start after recovering from concussion. 

In League Two, Stevenage travel to MK Dons and highly-rated midfielder Mark McKee, who has been out of the first team picture at Stevenage for most of the season, could make his first league start this term after impressing manager Dino Maamria in his last two outings as substitute. 

Meanwhile in Scotland, Rangers play host to Kilmarnock tomorrow as they look to close an eight-point gap on leaders Celtic.

Steven Davis and Kyle Lafferty, who both came off the bench in the midweek Scottish Cup defeat to Aberdeen, will be hoping for some crucial game time before they head off on international duty. 

The evergreen Gareth McAuley is unlikely to play any part though as he is still struggling with a calf injury.