Saturday debate: Who will be promoted to the Premier League?

The Saturday debate (Championship special)… Who do you think will be promoted to the Premier League

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 23 March 2012

It's crunch time for the Championship teams vying for promotion to the Barclays Premier League – the richest league in the world.

Will it be Southampton, West Ham or Reading for the automatic spots And what about the play-offs Sportsmail's finest give their verdicts…

Saints go marching in: the South Coast club are favourites for promotion on our panel

Saints go marching in: the South Coast club are favourites for promotion on our panel

LEE CLAYTON

Frank McAvennie said on Tuesday that West Ham are 'playing with too much fear' at home.

They have to overcome that to join Southampton's promotion party.

It would be a great story if Brighton follow Swansea's lead through the play-off final with the impressive Gus Poyet, but Michael Walker has a bet on Blackpool at 50-1.

And I suspect he may be buying the office tea round with his winnings.

DOMINIC KING

Southampton have been the most consistent team in the Championship and have hit a rich vein of form in the last 10 games. They look a good bet for the title.

West Ham may have wobbled in recent weeks but are capable of producing outstanding football, as they showed when demolishing Blackpool last month.

With a bit of luck, Ian Holloway will come up trumps in the play-off lottery. They could never be discounted in a one-off situation.

Hammered! West Ham's home form has been a major cause for concern

Hammered! West Ham's home form has been a major cause for concern

NEIL ASHTON

Southampton easily play the best football in the Championship and deserve to be promoted under their excellent manager Nigel Adkins.

Reading are on a magnificent run and they are good enough to see off the threat of West Ham. Brighton struggle to score goals away from home, but they could sneak through to the play-off final.

LAURA WILLIAMSON

West Ham's home form isn't good enough and they still have to play some of their promotion rivals at Upton Park, but I can see Sam Allardyce guiding them through the play-offs.

Watch out for Brighton, though: Gus Poyet's side have recovered from a mini-dip before Christmas and play some beautiful football, too.

Royal assent: Reading's fabulous run hit the buffers when they were beaten by Peterborough

Royal assent: Reading's fabulous run hit the buffers when they were beaten by Peterborough

JOHN EDWARDS

Rickie Lambert will surely earn himself the opportunity to prove he can score goals in the Barclays Premier League, having performed in the three divisions below it.

I expect his match-winning flair to take Southampton up as champions, with West Ham manager Sam Allardyce's experience and know-how proving crucial in seeing off Reading for the second automatic place.

Consolation for Reading will be a Premier League return via the play-offs.

MARK ALFORD

Southampton won 1-0 at Leeds despite being absolutely battered – that's title-winning character Fergie would admire.

Reading have surged into the automatic slots since Jason Roberts signed – nine wins in 11 matches and five goals.

Look out for Middlesbrough (if Barry Robson stops getting sent off) and Birmingham in the play-offs.

I'd like to see Chris Hughton guide City back after what happened at Newcastle.

Wembley way: Swansea won last season's play-off final over Reading

Wembley way: Swansea won last season's play-off final over Reading

Mailonline's Football League bloggers:

JOE RIDGE – 1 Southampton, 2 Reading. Play-offs: Cardiff.

I fancy Reading to pip West Ham for second. I don't think Big Sam knows his best XI whereas Brian McDermott has been able to keep his together.

MARTIN DOMIN – 1 Southampton, 2 Reading. Play-offs: West Ham.

Expect Sam Allardyce's men to have enough class to squeeze through.

KEVIN COULSON – 1 Southampton, 2 Reading. Play-offs: West Ham.

Allardyce, Mowbray, Hughton and Holloway have all gone up before but, crucially, so have a lot of West Ham's players. So it's the Hammers to win ugly in the play-offs.

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