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Championship preview

Ahead of the npower Championship season we take a club-by-club look at the sides in the running.

A club-by-club look at the npower Championship campaign

Sven-Goran Eriksson has grown accustomed to life in the media spotlight, which is perhaps just as well given the scrutiny he will find himself under this season. After a huge summer outlay of around £10million, the Foxes hierarchy want promotion - and nothing less will do. West Ham are under pressure to bounce straight back from last season's relegation. Hammers boss Sam Allardyce, who guided Bolton into the top flight in 2001, has seen players leave but Kevin Nolan's £5million arrival from Newcastle on a five-year contract said much for the club's desire to return to the elite at the first attempt. Birmingham, relegated on the final day of last season, are also expected to be in the mix for a top-two finish. New boss Chris Hughton has brought in Chris Burke and Marlon King on free transfers but key men such as Roger Johnson and Craig Gardner have jumped ship. Perhaps Nottingham Forest can have a greater say in the promotion race after two years of play-off heartache. Steve McClaren, back in England after spells in Holland and Germany, lacks nothing in ambition and the return of former favourite Andy Reid could prove a significant addition to a youthful squad. Middlesbrough flirted with relegation last term after Gordon Strachan's disastrous, short-lived reign before showing signs of gradual improvement under Tony Mowbray. Blackpool boss Ian Holloway won many admirers last season and will hope to challenge for an immediate return to the Premier League despite the loss of talismanic skipper Charlie Adam. Paul Jewell's reputation took a severe battering at Derby and prized asset Connor Wickham was sold to Sunderland, yet Ipswich look primed to launch a credible challenge this term. Brighton have a new stadium and a bright young boss in Gus Poyet, so expect the feelgood factor to keep them well afloat in the Championship, at least for the first half of the season. Burnley and Leeds fell just short of the play-offs last term and neither side looks likely to trouble the leading contenders this time around. A mid-table finish is probably what fans of Portsmouth, Millwall, Derby and Watford are expecting too. Yet mid-table anonymity is better than a relegation scrap - which Crystal Palace, Barnsley, Doncaster, Coventry and Peterborough look set to feature prominently in.


Manager: Keith Hill Position last season: 17th Ground: Oakwell Capacity: 23,009 Players in: David Perkins (Colchester, free), Craig Davies (Chesterfield, £700,000), Miles Addison (Derby, loan until January), Matt Done (Rochdale, undisclosed), Jim McNulty (Brighton, undisclosed), Scott Wiseman (Rochdale, free), Rob Edwards (Blackpool, free), Ricardo Vaz Te (unattached) Players out: Martin Devaney, Danny Fearnehough, Conor Branson, Steven Bennett (all released), Matthew Hill (Blackpool, free), Liam Dickinson (Plymouth, free) Jason Shackell (Derby, £1million) Hugo Colace (Estudiantes Tecos, free), Kern Miller (Accrington, loan until January) Key man: Craig Davies Chances: Keith Hill replaced former manager Mark Robins in June and has rebuilt the squad he inherited. Hill's reputation has soared since leading former club Rochdale to promotion and establishing them as a force in npower League One. But the Tykes are destined for another season of struggle as the Championship gets stronger and stronger. Prediction: 23rd Sky Bet odds: 100/1


Manager: Chris Hughton Position last season: 18th in the Premier League Ground: St Andrews Capacity: 30,009 Players in: Chris Burke (Cardiff, free), Marlon King (Coventry, free), Morgaro Gomis (Dundee United, free), Adam Rooney (Inverness, free), Steven Caldwell (Wigan, free), Boaz Myhill (West Brom, season loan), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United, Free) Players out: Kevin Phillips & Barry Ferguson (Blackpool, free), Marcus Bent, Lee Bowyer, Martin Jiranek, Stuart Parnaby (all released), Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland, free), Maik Taylor (retired), Craig Gardner (Sunderland, undisclosed), Lee Bowyer (Ipswich, free), Roger Johnson (Wolves, undisclosed) Key man: Scott Dann Chances: New Birmingham boss Chris Hughton knows he faces a tough task clinching an immediate return to the Barclays Premier League yet Blues, who also have the Europa League to contend with having won the Carling Cup last season, have the knowhow having done it in 2007 and 2009. The off-field uncertainty surrounding majority shareholder Carson Yeung could have a destabilising effect on the club. Prediction: 3rd Sky Bet odds: 12/1


Manager: Ian Holloway Position last season: 19th in the Premier League Ground: Bloomfield Road Capacity: 16,500 Players in: Bojan Djordjic (Videoton, free), Matthew Hill (Barnsley, free), Kevin Phillips & Barry Ferguson (both Birmingham, free), Craig Sutherland (unattached), Bob Harris (Queen of the South, free), Gerardo Bruna (Liverpool, undisclosed amount), Thomas Ince (Liverpool, undisclosed), Miguel Llera (Charlton, free) Players out: Danny Coid, Malaury Martin, Jason Euell, David Carney, Salaheddine Sbai, Richard Kingson, Marlon Harewood (all released), Andy Reid (Nottingham Forest, free), Ishmel Demontagnac (Notts County, free), Paul Rachubka (Leeds, free), David Vaughan (Sunderland, free), Rob Edwards (Barnsley, free), Charlie Adam (Liverpool, £6.75million), DJ Campbell (QPR, undisclosed), Malaury Martin (Middlesborough, free) Key man: Barry Ferguson Chances: The departure of skipper and talisman Charlie Adam to Liverpool is a massive loss but boss Ian Holloway should at least have his side competing at the right end of the table. Prediction: 12th Sky Bet odds: 12/1


Manager: Gus Poyet Position last season: 1st in League One Ground: Amex Community Stadium Capacity: 22,500 Players in: Will Hoskins (Bristol Rovers, £500,000), Will Buckley (Watford, £1million), Roland Bergkamp (Excelsior, compensation TBC), Craig Mackail-Smith (Peterborough, £3.25million), Kazenga LuaLua (Newcastle, loan until January), Romain Vincelot (Dagenham, undisclosed), Craig Noone (Plymoth, undislcosed amount) Players out: Radostin Kishishev, Cristian Baz, Agustin Battipiedi, Fran Sandaza (all released), Glenn Murray (Crystal Palace, free), Chris Holroyd (Rotherham, free), James Tunnicliffe (Wycombe, free), Elliott Bennett (Norwich, £1.5million), Jim McNulty (Barnsley, undisclosed), Gary Hart (Eastbourne Borough, free) Key man: Craig Mackail-Smith Chances: Promotion, a new stadium, a bright young manager and some big-money signings mean the feelgood factor is off the scale on the south coast at the moment and the Seagulls will surprise plenty of teams this term. Prediction: 14th Sky Bet odds: 18/1


Manager: Keith Millen Position last season: 15th Ground: Ashton Gate Capacity: 21,497 Players in: Yannick Bolasie (Plymouth, £90,000), Ryan Taylor (Rotherham, undisclosed), Neil Kilkenny (Leeds, free), Jordan Spence (West Ham United, season loan) Players out: Patrick Hoban, Jimmy Keohane (both released) John Akinde (Crawley, £70,000), Ivan Sproule (Hibernian, free), Stephen Henderson (Portsmouth, free) Key man: Nicky Maynard Chances: After a good summer of recruitment, and perhaps more importantly fending off interest in Nicky Maynard, Millen will definitely be eyeing an improvement on last term, but with the division even tougher this year, it could be another difficult season for the Robins. Prediction: 18th Sky Bet odds: 40/1


Manager: Eddie Howe Position last season: 8th Ground: Turf Moor Capacity: 22,546 Players in: Richard Eckersley (Toronto, undisclosed), Ben Mee (Manchester City, season loan), Kieran Trippier (Manchester City, season loan), Jon Stewart (unattached) Players out: Kevin McDonald, Chris Lynch, Nik Kudiersky, Chris Anderson, Michael John King, Remco van der Schaaf, Graham Alexander (all released), Steven Thompson (St Mirren, free), Clarke Carlisle (Preston, season loan), Chris Iwelumo (Watford, undisclosed), Chris Eagles (Bolton, undisclosed amount), Tyrone Mears (Bolton, undisclosed amount) Key man: Chris McCann Chances: Burnley struggled for consistency last season but boss Eddie Howe gradually imposed his youthful energy on his players and they only just missed out on the play-offs. Could find life tougher this term. Prediction: 10th Sky Bet odds: 25/1


Manager: Malky Mackay Position last season: 4th Ground: Cardiff City Stadium Capacity: 26,828 Players in: Craig Conway (Dundee United, free), Don Cowie (Watford, free), Andrew Taylor (Middlesbrough, free), Robert Earnshaw (Nottingham Forest, free), Aron Gunnarsson (Coventry, free), Joe Mason (Plymouth, undisclosed), Kenny Miller (Bursaspor, £870,000) Players out: Gavin Rae, Martin John (both released), Chris Burke (Birmingham, free) Adam Matthews (Celtic, £200,000), Michael Chopra (Ipswich, £1.5million), Jay Bothroyd (QPR, free) Key man: Peter Whittingham Chances: It has been a summer of upheaval for Cardiff, losing their manager Dave Jones and a host of key players including Craig Bellamy and Jay Bothroyd, so an automatic promotion campaign could be beyond them. However, Mackay is a promising young manager and has recruited well enough to oversee a challenge for the play-offs. Prediction: 7th Sky Bet odds: 16/1


Manager: Andy Thorn Position last season: 18th Ground: Ricoh Arena Capacity: 32,609 Players in: Chris Dunn (Northampton, undisclosed), Joe Murphy (Scunthorpe, free) Players out: Michael McIndoe, Michael Quirke, Isaac Osbourne (all released), Marlon King (Birmingham, free), Stephen O'Halloran (Carlisle, free), Keiren Westwood (Sunderland, free), Lee Carsley (retired), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff, free) Key man: Ben Turner Chances: Thorn embarks on his first full season in management and it may be a tough one having lost King, Westwood and Gunnarsson as well as the retirement of Carsley. Prediction: 20th Sky Bet odds: 100/1


Manager: Dougie Freedman Position last season: 20th Ground: Selhurst Park Capacity: 26,309 Players in: Glenn Murray (Brighton, free), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham, undisclosed), Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi, free), Jonathan Parr (Aalesund, undisclosed), Ryan McGivern (Manchester City, month long loan), Andrew Davies (Stoke, month long loan) Players out: Claude Davis, Kieran Djilali (both released), Neil Danns (Leicester, free), Adam Barrett (Bournemouth, undisclosed), Alassane N'Diaye (Southend, season loan) Key man: Julian Speroni Chances: Palace have narrowly avoided relegation in the past two seasons and there is little hope of that changing any time soon. Losing key midfielder Neil Danns was a big blow. Prediction: 21st Sky Bet odds: 80/1


Manager: Nigel Clough Position last season: 19th Ground: Pride Park Capacity: 33,597 Players in: Frank Fielding (Blackburn, £300,000), Jamie Ward (Sheffield United, £600,000), Theo Robinson (Millwall, undisclosed), Craig Bryson (Kilmarnock, £500,000), Nathan Tyson (Nottingham Forest, free), Jason Shackell (Barnsley, £1million), Chris Maguire (Aberdeen, free), Adam Legzdins (Burton, undisclosed), Kevin Kilbane (Hull City, loan until January Players out: Chris Porter (Sheffield United, free), Greg Mills (released), Arnaud Mendy (Macclesfield, free), Robbie Savage (retired), Ben Pringle (Rotherham, free), Miles Addison (Barnsley, loan until January), Luke Varney (Portsmouth, undisclosed) Key man: Shaun Barker Chances: A busy summer in the transfer market could finally have given manager Nigel Clough a squad capable of a top-10 finish. If they can gel quickly and avoid the injury problems that have blighted the past two campaigns, a play-off challenge could be a possibility, but they may be sucked into the mid-table morass. Prediction: 16th Sky Bet odds: 40/1


Manager: Sean O'Driscoll Position last season: 21st Ground: Keepmoat Stadium Capacity: 15,231 Players in: Tommy Spurr (Sheffield Wednesday, £200,000), Kyle Bennett (Bury, undisclosed), James Baxendale (Leeds, free), Richard Naylor (Leeds, free), Chris Brown (Preston, free), Rachid Bouhenna (unattached), Ryan Mason (Tottenham, season loan), Giles Barnes (unattached),Oscar Radford (unattached) Players out: Wayne Thomas, Dennis Souza, Steve Brooker (all released), Byron Webster (Northampton, free), Ryan Burge (Port Vale, free), Waide Fairhurst (Macclesfield, undisclosed), Dean Shiels (Kilmarnock, loan until January) Key man: Billy Sharp Chances: Doncaster struggled badly last season and at one point looked in serious danger of going down. They did enough to survive the drop but may not have enough quality to do so again this term. Prediction: 24th Sky Bet odds: 125/1


Manager: Nigel Pearson Position last season: 11th Ground: KC Stadium Capacity: 25,586 Players in: Joe Dudgeon (Manchester United, £80,000), Corry Evans (Manchester United, £500,000), Dele Adebola (Nottingham Forest, free), Jack Hobbs (Leicester, undisclosed), Paul McKenna (Nottingham Forest, free), Peter Gulacsi (Liverpool, season loan), Robbie Brady (Manchester United, season loan) Players out: Matt Duke, Craig Fagan, Anthony Gardner, Tijani Belaid (all released), Nolberto Solano (Hartlepool, free), Liam Cooper (Huddersfield, season loan), Kevin Kilbane (Derby, loan unitl January), Mark Cullen (Bury, loan until January) Key man: Matty Fryatt Chances: The Tigers struggled to make an impact back in the Championship under new manager Pearson last season following relegation but set a new unbeaten away record of 14 matches and if they can improve their home form this time round Hull, boosted by six summer signings, can launch a concerted play-off challenge. Prediction: 13th Sky Bet odds: 25/1


Manager: Paul Jewell Position last season: 13th Ground: Portman Road Capacity: 30,311 Players in: Ivar Ingimarsson (Reading, free), Nathan Ellington (Watford, free), Michael Chopra (Cardiff, £1.5million), Aaron Cresswell (Tranmere, tribunal), Lee Bowyer (Birmingham, free), David Stockdale (Fulham, season loan), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Arsenal, undisclosed) Players out: Pablo Counago (released), Kevin Lisbie (released), Ian McLoughlin (MK Dons, free), Brian Murphy, Alan Quinn, Reggie Lambe, David Cawley (all released), Gareth McAuley (West Brom, free), David Norris (Portsmouth, free), Tom Eastman (Colchester, free), Troy Brown (Rotherham, free), Connor Wickham (Sunderland, £8million) Key man: Michael Chopra Chances: Despite losing Wickham, McAuley and Norris, experienced manager Jewell has brought in the likes of Chopra, Ingimarsson and Bowyer to steady the ship in what represents a season of promise at Portman Road. Prediction: 9th Sky Bet odds: 18/1


Manager: Simon Grayson Position last season: 7th Ground: Elland Road Capacity: 39,460 Players in: Paul Rachubka (Blackpool, free), Michael Brown (Portsmouth, free), Andy Lonergan (Preston, undisclosed), Darren O'Dea (Celtic, season loan) Players out: Richard Naylor, Shane Higgs (both released), Neil Kilkenny (Bristol City, free), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester, £1.5million), Bradley Johnson (Norwich, free), James Baxendale (Doncaster, free) Key man: Max Gradel Chances: Grayson is doubly determined to steer Leeds towards another promotion challenge after narrowly missing out on the play-offs last season. But competition in the second tier is getting ever stronger and following a summer of limited rebuilding a top-six finish might be beyond them. Prediction: 11th Sky Bet odds: 20/1


Manager: Sven-Goran Eriksson Position last season: 10th Ground: King Power Stadium Capacity: 32,500 Players in: Lee Peltier (Huddersfield, £700,000), Neil Danns (Crystal Palace, free), Kasper Schmeichel (Leeds, £1.5million), Sean St Ledger (Preston, undisclosed), David Nugent (Portsmouth, free), Matt Mills (Reading, undisclosed), John Pantsil (Fulham, free), Michael Johnson (Manchester City, season loan), Gelson Fernandes (Saint Ettienne, season loan) Players out: Ricardo, Robert Ambrusics, Ashley Chambers, Nathan Hicks, Jorrin John, Ben Milnes, Luke O'Neill, Aman Verma, Adi Yussuf (all released), Craig King (Telford, free), Michael Lamey (Wisla Krakow, free), Jack Hobbs (Hull, undisclosed), Cian Bolger (Bristol Rovers, six-month loan), Conrad Logan (Rotherham, six-month loan) Key man: David Nugent Chances: After an influx of new signings, Sven-Goran Eriksson's first full season in charge at the King Power Stadium is expected to be a successful one. Anything less than promotion would be seen as failure but a top-two finish must be the aim. Prediction: 1st Sky Bet odds: 4/1


Manager: Tony Mowbray Position last season: 12th Ground: The Riverside Stadium Capacity: 35,100 Players in: Curtis Main (Darlington, free), Carl Ikheme (Wolves, month long loan), Malaury Martin (Blackpool, free) Players out: Maximilian Haas (released), Willo Flood (Dundee United, free), Kris Boyd (Eskisehirspor, free), Andrew Taylor (Cardiff, free), Leroy Lita (Swansea, £1.75m), Ben Gibson (Plymouth, three month loan) Key man: Scott McDonald Chances: After a strong finish to last season, Boro will be seeking to make a serious promotion push in Mowbray's first full season in charge. A mixture of youth and experience in the squad can lead the club to a play-off place. Prediction: 6th Sky Bet odds: 14/1


Manager: Kenny Jackett Position last season: 9th Ground: The Den Capacity: 20,146 Players in: Ryan Allsop (West Brom, £80,000), Therry Racon (Charlton, free), Hameur Bouazza (Arles-Avignon, £175,000), Darius Henderson (Sheffield United, undisclosed), Jordan Stewart (Skoda Xanthi, free) Players out: Patrick O'Connor, Kiernon Hughes-Mason (both released), Marc Laird (Leyton Orient, free), John Sullivan (Charlton, free), Steve Morison (Norwich, £2.5million), Theo Robinson (Derby, undisclosed), Neil Harris (Southend, free), Ashley Grimes (Rochdale, free), Andy Frampton (Gillingham, free), Danny Schofield (Rotherham, free) Key man: Paul Robinson Chances: Steve Morison's 15 Championship goals guided the Lions to the fringes of the play-offs last term, but also earned him a move to Norwich and Jackett will find him difficult to replace. Prediction: 17th Sky Bet odds: 50/1


Manager: Steve McClaren Position last season: 6th Ground: City Ground Capacity: 30, 602 Players in: Andy Reid (Blackpool, free), Jonathan Greening (Fulham, undisclosed), George Boateng (unattached) Players out: Nathan Tyson (Derby, free), Mark Byrne (Barnet, free), Kelvin Wilson (Celtic, free), Dele Adebola (Hull, free), Paul McKenna (Hull, free), Julian Bennett (Sheffield Wednesday, free), Robert Earnshaw (Cardiff, free) Key man: Luke Chambers Chances: It was play-off heartbreak again for Forest last season but a new manager and a shake-up of the squad could be what is needed for them to make that final step. It will be the play-offs again, but McClaren might be celebrating at Wembley come May. Prediction: 4th Sky Bet odds: 12/1


Manager: Darren Ferguson Position last season: League One 4th (promoted via play-offs) Ground: London Road Capacity: 15,314 Players in: Paul Jones (Exeter, free), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Manchester United, six-month loan), Scott Wootton (Manchester United, six-month loan) Players out: James McKeown (released), Seth Nana Ofori-Twumasi (Northampton, free), Chris Whelpdale (Gillingham, free), Craig Mackail-Smith (Brighton, £3.25million) Key man: George Boyd Chances: Posh struggled at this level last time they were promoted and it will be tough for them again. Mackail-Smith's goals will be hard to replace. Prediction: 22nd Sky Bet odds: 100/1


Manager: Steve Cotterill Position last season: 16th Ground: Fratton Park Capacity: 20,688 Players in: David Norris (Ipswich, free), Jason Pearce (Bournemouth, undisclosed), Luke Varney (Derby, undisclosed), Stephen Henderson (Bristol City, free) Players out: Michael Brown, Richard Hughes, Danny Webber (all released), Marlon Pack (Cheltenham, free), Nadir Ciftci (Kayserispor, free), Darryl Flahavan (Bournemouth, free), David Nugent (Leicester, free) Key man: David Norris Chances: Cotterill worked miracles with a threadbare squad last term, with Pompey at one stage even threatening to make the play-offs until they ran out of steam. A few more players should ensure a more comfortable season. Prediction: 14th Sky Bet odds: 33/1


Manager: Brian McDermott Position last season: 5th Ground: Madejski Stadium Capacity: 24,161 Players in: Mikele Leigertwood (QPR, free), Bongani Khumalo (Tottenham, season loan) Players out: Ethan Gage, Abdulai Bell-Baggie, Danny Joyce (all released), Scott Davies (Crawley, free), Julian Kelly (Notts County, free), Ivar Ingimarsson (Ipswich, free), Matt Mills (Leicester, undisclosed), David Mooney (Leyton Orient, free), Nicholas Bignall (Exeter, month long loan), Ben Hamer (Charlton, undisclosed fee) Key man: Shane Long Chances: Keeping Long has been as big a boost as any new signing and his goals will be again vital as McDermott's side attempt to bounce back from an agonising play-off final defeat last season by once again mounting a promotion challenge. Prediction: 5th Sky Bet odds: 14/1


Manager: Nigel Adkins Position last season: 2nd in League One Ground: St Mary's Capacity: 32,689 Players in: Jack Cork (Chelsea, undisclosed), Steve de Ridder (De Graafschap, undisclosed) Players out: Anthony Pulis, Tony Garrod, Callum McNish (all released), Oscar Gobern (Huddersfield, tribunal) Key man: Rickie Lambert Chances: With money to spend there is talk of back-to-back promotions down at St Mary's, and if the prolific Lambert can step up a level, a play-off challenge will certainly be on the cards. Prediction: 8th Sky Bet odds: 14/1


Manager: Sean Dyche Position last season: 14th Ground: Vicarage Road Capacity: 19,920 Players in: Craig Forsyth (Dundee, undisclosed), David Mirfin (Scunthorpe, free), Mark Yeates (Sheffield United, undisclosed), Prince Buaben (Dundee United, free), Chris Iwelumo (Burnley, undisclosed), Carl Dickinson (Stoke, undisclosed) Players out: Danny Graham (Swansea, £3.5million), Will Buckley (Brighton, £1million), Liam Henderson (York, free), Mat Sadler (Walsall, free), Nathan Ellington (Ipswich, free), Don Cowie (Cardiff, free) Key man: John Eustace Chances: The 2011-12 season promises to be a journey into the unknown for Watford as Dyche embarks on his first venture into management following Malky Mackay's switch to Cardiff, and does so without the services of 24-goal top scorer Danny Graham. Prediction: 19th Sky Bet odds: 66/1


Manager: Sam Allardyce Position last season: 20th in Premier League Ground: Upton Park Capacity: 35,303 Players in: Abdoulaye Faye (Stoke, free), Kevin Nolan (Newcastle, undisclosed), Matt Taylor (Bolton, undisclosed), Joey O'Brien (unattached) Players out: Danny Gabbidon (QPR, free), Matthew Upson, Jonathan Spector, Lars Jacobsen, Zavon Hines (all released), Manuel Da Costa (Lokomotiv Moscow, £1.3million), Radoslav Kovac (Basle, £500,000), Demba Ba (Newcastle, undisclosed), Kieron Dyer (QPR, free), Anthony Edgar (Yeovil, free), Luis Boa Morte (released) Key man: Kevin Nolan Chances: The Hammers were a shambles as they tumbled out of the Premier League last season but in Allardyce they have recruited the ideal man to shake them up and ultimately guide them straight back up. Prediction: 2nd Sky Bet odds: 4/1

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