SkyBet Championship: Chris Kavanagh to referee Derby County v Nottingham Forest

The Manchester referee will get his first taste of the East Midlands derby when Derby County welcome rivals Nottingham Forest to Pride Park for Sunday’s televised encounter.

Establishing his name: Kavanagh, who has been refereeing since 1998, has more than 60 Football League games under his belt (Picture from Sky Sports)

Referee Chris Kavanagh will take charge of his first East Midlands derby when Derby County host Nottingham Forest in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday.

The 30-year-old will be making the decisions at Pride Park for the televised lunchtime contest between the two fierce rivals in the SkyBet Championship (KO 12:00 GMT).

Kavanagh, from Manchester, will be have a team of officials from Lancashire – assistants Nick Greenhalgh and James Mainwaring, and fourth official Darren Bond.

The same assistants will be on duty, with Kavanagh as fourth official, on Tuesday night for Leeds United’s Championship match against Reading – which will be refereed by Geoff Eltringham at Elland Road.

It will be a 20th game of the season for Kavanagh – who is one of 18 full-time Select Group 2 referees primarily officiating in the Championship from this season in an attempt to drive up standards.

The Ashton-under-Lyne whistler has so far brandished 65 yellow cards and awarded three penalties but is yet to send off a player – a statistic which could change in what is likely to be an intense encounter between the sides separated by 15 miles across the Midlands.

Having controlled eight live TV games last term, this weekend will be his third appearance of the campaign in front of the cameras – after presiding over Bristol Rovers’ EFL Cup first round success over Cardiff City in August and Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle the following month.

Kavanagh will oversee his 13th game in the second-tier of 2016-17 so far and will certainly be hoping it won’t prove to be an unlucky number as he bids to stay under the radar during one of the Football League’s most fiery fixtures.

Half of his 36 games came in the Championship last season, during a year in which he proved his ability to earn a place among the 18-strong group of professional officials primarily officiating in the second-tier.

In doing so, he left his day job as Manchester County FA’s Referee Development Manager – a role he had fulfilled for two and a half years.

Kavanagh, who is being considered for future promotion to the Select Group of Premier League referees, has overseen a number of top-flight teams in cup competitions already this term.

He was in the middle for Everton’s 4-0 EFL Cup second round victory against Yeovil and put in a solid display when Hull beat fellow top-flight side Stoke 2-1 in the third round.

Kavanagh also hit the headlines in October after sending Sunderland boss David Moyes to the stands during their fourth-round defeat at Southampton for swearing at fourth official James Adcock – who refereed Curzon Ashton’s FA Cup defeat by Wimbledon last weekend.

It later emerged in a post-match interview that, when asked by a reporter, Moyes had no idea who Kavanagh was.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Preston boss Simon Grayson expressed his frustration after Kavanagh admitted he had missed two penalties for his side in their 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle.

Kavanagh was only promoted to the Football League in 2014 but has been to Wembley, as fourth official for the 2015 FA Vase Final between Glossop North End and North Shields.

He will encounter Derby for the third time – his first since their 2-1 defeat at Cardiff City back in April – while it will be his fourth Forest game with his most recent being their 2-1 defeat at home to Norwich in September.

Steve McClaren’s Derby have won five league games in a row to parachute themselves into the top half, while Forest are seeking a fourth successive win as their upturn in form under Philippe Montanier continues.

There has been a mixed record in the last five meetings, with two wins for each side and a 1-1 draw.