JAMES Linington will be the man in the middle for Friday night’s Severnside derby between Cardiff City and Bristol City.
The Isle of Wight official will be at the helm for Neil Warnock’s first game as Bluebirds boss when the fifth-placed Robins visit the Cardiff City Stadium to face the second-bottom team (KO 19:45, live on Sky Sports).
He will be assisted by Steven Meredith (Nottingham) and Neil Davies (London), with Tim Robinson (west Sussex) on fourth official duties.
Linington encountered both sides in the first month of the season in the Championship.
The 37-year-old awarded QPR a late penalty to help them beat Cardiff 2-0 in south Wales in August, before booking eight players in Bristol City’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Ashton Gate two weeks later.
Overall, he has issued 39 yellow cards, sent off one player and awarded three penalties in seven games this term – five of which have been in the Championship and two EFL Cup ties.
Linington was due to take charge of Derby’s televised match with Newcastle at the iPro Stadium last month but was injured in the warm-up and replaced by the fourth official, Darren Bond.
Linington has probably been the biggest beneficiary of the 18 referees who turned professional in Select Group 2 over the summer.
The Newport-based whistler has to travel the furthest to get to games by catching the ferry from Fishbourne port across the Solent before making the rest of his journey by car.
He will be hoping to stay on the right side of new Cardiff manager Warnock, who has had many a run-in with referees during his career despite being a qualified official himself.
Linington took up the whistle at the age of 14 before giving up football playing as a winger because he was told he was ‘not strong enough’.
He has been a Football League referee since 2008 – having spent two years as a Select Group linesman, during which he ran the line in the 2006 League One Play-Off Final at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium.
But Linington’s biggest honour to date came when refereeing Dagenham & Redbridge’s 3-2 win over Rotherham in the 2010 League Two Play-Off Final at Wembley.
David Coote has been confirmed as the referee for Aston Villa’s clash with Midlands rivals Wolves on Saturday.
The Select Group 2 official has been put in charge of the evening game at Villa Park when managerless Villa welcome Walter Zenga’s Wolves (KO 17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Coote will be able to call upon the assistance of Shaun Hudson (Tyne & Wesr) and James Wilson (Cheshire), while Andy Madley (west Yorkshire) will be on electronic board duties as fourth official.
The West Yorkshire whistler has been among the busiest in the Football League so far this term, having refereed 11 games and been fourth official for nine others.
He has dished out an average of three yellow cards per match, sent off Reading’s Garath McCleary in their 2-1 win at Barnsley and pointed to the penalty spot three times.
Coote has never officiated an Aston Villa game before but was in the middle for Wolves’ 2-1 defeat against Leeds at Elland Road in April last season.
It will be his second TV game and major derby of the campaign after impressing in his first ever East Anglian derby at Portman Road in August – issuing just one booking in Ipswich’s 1-1 draw with Norwich.
Cricket-loving Coote, originally from Nottinghamshire, first took up the whistle at the age of 14 before progressing to become a Football League referee in 2010.
He has had five trips to Wembley as a match official – his most important as the man in the middle for the 2014 League One Play-Off Final when Rotherham beat Leyton Orient on penalties.
It will be the sides’ first meeting since Villa won 3-2 at Molineux in the Premier League in January 2012.
Graham Scott has been assigned to Sunday’s Yorkshire derby between Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday.
The 48-year-old will be in charge as the current leaders host their south Yorkshire neighbours in what promises to be a competitive contest at the John Smith’s Stadium (KO 12:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
He will be assisted by Dave Bryan (Lincolnshire) and Matthew Wilkes (west Midlands), as well as fourth official Oliver Langford (west Midlands).
Scott will handle only his eighth match of the season – and fourth in the Championship so far.
He has brandished 26 yellow cards, sent off Gillingham’s Ryan Jackson in their 1-1 League One draw with Bradford, and awarded three spotkicks.
The Oxfordshire whistler was promoted to the Premier League after six seasons in the Football League in the summer of 2015.
But he has since received only six top-flight matches – with his only one this term coming last month in Tottenham’s 2-1 win at Middlesbrough, in which three players were cautioned.
It will be his second TV match of the season after putting in a good display in Leeds’ 2-0 win at Cardiff last month, also in the second-tier.
He awarded the visitors a spotkick under the new shirt-pulling directive at a crucial time after Matthew Connolly hauled down Pontus Jansson, which allowed Chris Wood to open the scoring at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The Abingdon-based official, who has also been fourth official for four games this season, encountered Huddersfield twice last season – in both of their West Yorkshire derbies against Leeds United.
He stayed under the radar during Leeds’ 3-0 win at the John Smith’s last November but booked eight players and awarded Huddersfield a penalty, which Nakhi Wells missed, in their 4-1 win at Elland Road back in March.
Scott controlled three Wednesday matches last term – their goalless draw with Derby in December, a 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest in which he dismissed Barry Bannan in March, and their memorable 3-0 triumph against Arsenal in the League Cup.
Darren Deadman will return to the middle this weekend, despite his poor display in Wimbledon’s 3-1 win at Oxford in League One last Sunday.
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