Republic of Ireland midfielder Conor Hourihane has emerged as an injury doubt for the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers after being withdrawn in the first-half as Swansea lost the South Wales derby 1-0 to Mick McCarthy's Cardiff City.

Aden Flint's early goal made the difference for the Bluebirds to move within four points of the Sky Bet Championship play-off places, while Swansea remain third.

But Ireland manager Stephen Kenny will be concerned about Hourihane's availability for the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign which gets underway with a trip to Belgrade to face Serbia on Wednesday.

The in-form midfielder, who had netted five goals in 13 league games since making the switch on loan from Aston Villa, was forced off at the Liberty Stadium in Saturday's evening kick-off after he had initially tried to run off a thigh muscle injury.

Earlier, Callum O'Dowda, who is also in the Irish squad, made his first start of the calendar year and third appearance overall since returning from injury at the start of the month, for Bristol City against Rotherham.

However, the winger was unable to finish the game, being forced off after 88 minutes with all substitutes used.

Rotherham, were 2-0 victors as Michael Smith headed in moments before the interval and Richard Wood doubled the advantage later on.

Elsewhere, Blackburn came from behind to take a point off Championship leaders Norwich at Carrow Road.

The Canaries looked on course to make it 10 league wins in a row as Kenny McLean's crisp finish following an exchange of passes with Kieran Dowell had them ahead in a tight encounter.

Teemu Pukki of Norwich City and Joe Rothwell of Blackburn Rovers

But the visitors would make sure of leaving Norfolk with a share of the spoils as Sam Gallagher headed in to secure a 1-1 draw.

Two-time Republic of Ireland cap Darragh Lenihan started at centre-back for Blackburn.

Watford moved to within eight points of the summit with a straightforward win over Lee Bowyer's Birmingham 3-0 at Vicarage Road.

Ken Sema put the Hornets ahead early on, tucking home after Joao Pedro's low effort had been turned into his path.

The points would be secured when captain Nathaniel Chalobah headed in 10 minutes into the second-half before Andre Gray completed a good win.

Irish forward Scott Hogan started up front for Birmingham, before being substituted just after the hour mark.

Cyrus Christie takes a throw-in at Brentford Community Stadium

Fellow promotion hopefuls Brentford were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Chris Hughton's Nottingham Forest in the early kick-off, Ivan Toney's penalty - his 28th league goal of the campaign - cancelled out by Filip Krovinovic's effort.

Cyrus Christie, who has been named in the Ireland squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, played the full 90 minutes for Forest at right-back.

At the other end of the table there were crucial wins for both Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday in their battle against the drop.

Jordan Rhodes scored once in either half as Wednesday won 2-1 at Yorkshire rivals Barnsley, who pulled one back through Carlton Morris.

Callum O'Dowda falls after a challenge by Matthew Olosunde of Rotherham United 

Coventry drew 0-0 away to bottom club Wycombe, with Daryl Horgan coming off the bench for Wanderers, while Wayne Rooney's Derby lost 1-0 at Stoke as Jacob Brown's header secured the points for the home side.

Ireland midfielder Jason Knight started for the Rams but the Potters continue to be without James McClean was not included in the Stoke matchday squad as he regains fitness, despite being named in the international squad.

 Stoke City's John Obi Mikel is tackled by Jason Knight 

Yakou Meite scored his third goal in three games as Reading came from behind to draw 1-1 at home to QPR, who had led at half-time through Lyndon Dykes.

Millwall ran out 1-0 winners over Middlesbrough courtesy of a Grant Hall own goal, while Luton beat Preston North End 1-0 with Daniel Iversen turning into his own net late on. James Collins was a second-half substitute for Luton, while Sean Maguire also came off the bench for Preston. Jayson Molumby was an unused substitute for North End however, while they were without captain Alan Browne who was suspended after a red card in midweek.