League Two 2019/20 season preview: Promotion, play-offs, relegation?
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Last Updated: 01/08/19 3:41pm
The new Sky Bet League Two season kicks off this weekend but who's likely to be battling at the top and bottom?
We select the sides who look likely to be competing for promotion - and those who could be set for a season of struggle...
Bradford finished rock bottom of League One last season but Sky Bet have Gary Bowyer's side 13/8 favourites to return in style by finishing top of the pack in 2019/20. Bowyer has fired a warning to rival defences after adding James Vaughan and Clayton Donaldson alongside Eoin Doyle in attack but, importantly, connection between club and sizeable fanbase has been restored after Edin Rahic's departure.
Salford City, backed by billionaire Peter Lim and the 'Class of '92', have enjoyed a heady climb but while the bookmaker makes them 15/8 for the title, a fifth promotion in seven seasons appears ambitious. Richie Towell is an impressive midfield addition, while Graham Alexander has high hopes for young striker Luke Armstrong from Middlesbrough, but acclimatisation should be the aim.
Plymouth, conversely, look well placed to meet expectations. Ryan Lowe has brought five players with him from beleaguered Bury - notably Danny Mayor - but a title shot (9/4) may depend on how quickly new and old blend. Jose Baxter, catching up with fitness after returning from a drugs ban, has the talent at least to kickstart his career in a side likely to stay true to Lowe's attacking philosophy.
Mansfield - also 9/4 for glory - missed out in the play-offs last term but have long been plotting for promotion and the addition of Nicky Maynard, as well as Andy Cook, to a side that appears to have far greater strength in depth has raised hopes this could be their year.
Forest Green (7/2 for promotion) have lost Christian Doidge but with Matt Mills adding experience at the back and Matt Stevens hoping to play poacher in the box, Mark Cooper will hope his steadily progressing side - beaten in the play-off semi-finals last term - can go better again this term.
Swindon will look to benefit from a full pre-season under Richie Wellens - midfielder John Lyden has caught the eye but questions remain about their striking options - while Colchester, also 7/2 shots, have lost Sammie Szmodics but have high hopes for Jevani Brown.
Crewe (6/1) will hope to take their startling end-of-season form following a switch in formation into the new term, with boss David Artell talking up the goal potential of summer signing Daniel Powell. Exeter (5/1) are tipped to challenge again and have Nicky Ajose in the ranks, while Scunthorpe are shorter 5/2 odds but may need to consolidate with Paul Hurst working on a tighter budget.
Leyton Orient are 4/1 to go up by any means but after the tragic death of Justin Edinburgh, the 2019/20 season will be an emotionally-charged one. Regardless of what happens on the pitch, Ross Embleton and his players will be committed to preserving the togetherness that Edinburgh treasured.
Macclesfield defied the odds to stay up last season but amid financial unrest and after a raft of departures, Sol Campbell's side are 11/4 tips to go down.
Morecambe (10/3 to be relegated) were defiant, too, last term but longstanding manager Jim Bentley will have them up for the scrap again and has secured the return of striker Shaun Miller.
Cambridge (6/1), who were among the lowest goalscorers in the EFL last season and have lost Jevani Brown, seem set for a struggle, while Oldham are longer odd at 10/1 but an uncertain proposition at best with Laurent Banide - only on a 12-month contract - the club's seventh manager since 2017.
Salford splashed cash on Adam Rooney and were rewarded with 23 goals last term; the former Aberdeen is Sky Bet's 8/1 Golden Boot tip.
Bradford duo James Vaughan (10/1) and Clayton Donaldson (14/1) are among the frontrunners, while Nicky Maynard (10/1) scored 22 goals for Bury in this division last term and has left Mansfield boss John Dempster purring in pre-season.
* All Sky Bet odds correct as of 0900, Wednesday July 31