CHRIS Kavanagh has been confirmed as the referee for the televised SkyBet Championship encounter between MK Dons and Derby County on Saturday.
The highly-rated 29-year-old will take charge of the 12:30pm kick-off (live on Sky Sports) at the Stadium MK as the newly-promoted hosts seek to end a run of four straight defeats against the promotion-chasing Rams.
He will be assisted by Darren Blunden (Kent) and Andy Hendley (West Midlands) while Staffordshire’s Chris Sarginson – who was the fourth official for Derby’s goalless draw with Burnley on Monday night – will be in control of electronic board duties.
Kavanagh – based in Manchester – has officiated six games in all competitions so far this term and will be in the middle for Newcastle’s Capital One Cup third round tie against Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday night.
He has so far brandished 20 yellow cards and is yet to send a player off but awarded two penalties during Aston Villa’s 5-3 extra-time win over Notts County in the League Cup second round after which he was criticised by County boss Ricardo Moniz for being “arrogant”.
Kavanagh – who has been Manchester FA’s Referee Development Officer since May 2014 – has already handled three Championship games this term including the televised goalless draw between Preston and Middlesbrough on the opening weekend.
Despite only officiating eight second-tier matches in his debut season on the National List in 2014-15, he is now considered to be among the Talent Group of referees whose potential for promotion to the Premier League is being assessed.
Kavanagh – who had previously spent two seasons in the Conference – handled 29 games in all competitions last term and was also the fourth official for the FA Vase Final between Glossop North End and North Shields at Wembley Stadium.
It will be the first time Kavanagh will encounter Derby County but he oversaw two MK Dons home games in their League One campaign – the 2-0 win over Barnsley in January and 6-1 thrashing of Leyton Orient in April.
Lancashire-born Kavanagh – whose quiet and unassuming approach has earned plaudits – has only issued one red card in his last 20 games in all competitions.
He will also be in charge of the League One clash between Burton Albion and Sheffield United at the Pirelli Stadium next Tuesday night.
Karl Robinson’s MK Dons sit 20th in the table with seven points from eight league games while Derby are in 11th place with 11 points having drawn five times so far under new head coach Paul Clement.