EFL WEEKEND: The EFL returns in full after the international break this weekend and we preview one game from each of the three divisions below, as well as offering up some of our recommended BETDAQ bets.

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Middlesbrough v Birmingham – Saturday 15:00

Much of the talk around this fixture is sure to be about Wayne Rooney as he takes his first game in charge of Birmingham City. Despite winning their last two games, the Blues haven’t been in the best of form, as they’ve failed to win in their six games prior to a 4-1 victory against Huddersfield at the beginning of the month. They’ve scored only 15 goals in their 11 games to date – the fewest of any team in the top half of the table – and that’s likely to be the area Rooney will need to improve. However, they did sign off before the international break with a strong 3-1 defeat of city rivals West Brom and Rooney’s arrival could give them a further boost.

Michael Carrick will be in the opposite dugout and is sure to be eager to get one over his old Man United teammate. Middlesbrough sit 10 places below their rivals in 16th place, but have been on something of a roll of late, winning their last five games on the bounce. They’ve scored 11 goals and conceded just three in their last four games in the Championship, so are clearly flying high.

While the odds clearly favour Middlesbrough at 1.78, it might be worth taking a chance on Rooney’s arrival kicking Birmingham into gear and they might just offer a bit of value at 4.4.

Middlesbrough v Birmingham markets


Charlton v Reading – 15:00 Saturday

Charlton suffered an appalling start to the season, losing four of their first five games, but they seem to have steadied the ship since then and are now unbeaten in six in the league. That resurgence is partly due to the scoring form of forwards Alfie May and Corey Blackett-Taylor, who have notched nine goals between them in their last six league games. There have also been signs that they are beginning to sure up their defence, but it is a back line that can still be vulnerable.

It’s been a real struggle for Reading so far this season, with the Royals only winning three of their 11 opening games. They have also been docked points for failing to protect payments to staff, which leaves them in a precarious position in the relegation zone on only six points. Manager Ruben Selles looks to have his work cut out to turn results around and they are without a win in four in the league. However, a 5-0 victory over Swindon in the EFL Trophy most recently will have boosted morale and they’ll look to take that with them to the Valley.

Charlton look to be in a much better place than Reading in recent games and it’s not hard to see them making full use of home advantage here at 1.72.

Charlton v Reading markets


Gillingham v Notts County – 15:00 Saturday

League Two is looking incredibly close at the moment with only six points separating the top 10 teams. Second placed Notts County come here on the back of a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Mansfield Town last weekend, which was a particularly disappointing result considering they went ahead in the third minute. Notts County do score plenty of goals, but they rely on a potent attack to make up for their defensive frailties and a back line that has conceded 25 times in 13 games – the third most in the league. Given that stat it’s remarkable that Luke Williams’ side are where they are in the table.

Gillingham sit seventh, but only two points behind County and know a win will carry them past their opponents in the table. In stark contrast to their rivals, it’s goals that the Kent-based club lack, as they’ve managed only 12 so far this season, while their defence is solid, having conceded only 16 times. They also come here on the back of a 4-1 defeat away at Walsall last weekend and have only won once in their last five in the league, so are also looking for a return to form. They do, however, have a strong record at home, losing only once at Priestfield Stadium all season.

This looks too close to call and is sure to be a battle between County’s attack and Gillingham’s defence. With both sides priced around the 2.5 mark to secure all three points, a draw looks to offer excellent value at 3.35.

Gillingham v Notts County markets

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