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Football Preview: The Penultimate Championship Weekend

Swansea City head coach Russell Martin is already thinking about next season – and trying not to stress about which division the club will be in.

In all probability, the Swans will be back in the Championship and Martin himself has said he reckons he’ll be strolling along Langland Bay this summer, kicking the sand in frustration at what might have been.

But there is just enough of a tantalising possibility that the door to the Premier League remains ajar with just two games to go.

If Swansea were to win at Hull City on Saturday, then finish with a home victory against West Bromwich Albion on the final day, they will get to 68 points.

That’s two points more than Coventry City have, three more than Sunderland, Millwall and Blackburn Rovers and five more than West Brom and Preston.

All of which means those clubs above them still have work to do with just two matches of their own remaining.

If two of those clubs get maximum points, then the flickering dream is over for Martin’s men.

But with some of those clubs lining up against each other, and others having tricky-looking fixtures, there is enough for Swans fans to stay interested.

It’s all become possible after an unbeaten run of six wins and a draw in their last seven games.

How Martin must sigh when he thinks of those points his team chucked away earlier in the season – the 3-1 defeat at home to Stoke City, the 4-3 loss at home to Birmingham City.

If the Swans had only managed to draw both of those matches, then they would now be sitting just a single point off the play-off places.

Martin insists the play-offs are not his target because it’s not in his control – only the claiming of two more wins to make it eight out of nine.

“We have got to keep that going and I hope we have convinced people that we have really strong foundations to build on and a really exciting group of young players who can achieve something together over a period of time,” he says.

“All of that puts you in a pretty good place for next season and now we have to get things moving forward because we are showing we can compete at this level.”

After Thursday’s re-arranged match at Rotherham, Cardiff City will also have just two Championship matches remaining.

On Sunday, they host Huddersfield Town, whose manager just happens to be Neil Warnock, formerly of the Bluebirds’ parish.

When the dust has settled on Sunday night, Warnock will either be deep in the relegation mire himself with the Yorkshire club, or else he will have dragged Cardiff a little nearer the dreaded dotted line.

Newport County have nothing to play for except pride – and the mid-table pecking order – when they go to Gillingham for their penultimate game in League Two.

County have pulled away from the danger area in recent weeks, but their inconsistency is something manager Graham Coughlan has vowed to get rid of next season – along with any players who he thinks can’t help him achieve his goal.

Reaching their goals is not something Wrexham have struggled in.

They have already won the National League title – and promotion back to the Football League – and so Saturday’s trip to Torquay United will have a seaside party vibe for the new champions and their fans.

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