It took Sheffield United six years to find a way out of League One and this is a sign of the difficulty of this division. Looking ahead to the 2017-18 campaign it is clear that the standard has taken another leap forward, arguably the biggest ever. We look at each team and decide whether they will be a contender, also ran or a straggler in our League One Preview. Head to www.d3d4football.com and listen to our League One Preview Podcast for a definitive look at each club’s chances.
Blackburn Rovers: The addition of Bradley Dack and Peter Whittingham should give Tony Mowbray’s side the spark required to make an immediate return to the Championship. Danny Graham remains from last season and will likely lead the line for Rovers and Charlie Mulgrew will be a key player who completes the spine of a very good team.
Scunthorpe United: Key to success for the Iron will be the form of their goal scoring trio of Paddy Madden, Kevin Van Veen and last season’s 19 goal man, Josh Morris. The addition of Rory McArdle is upgrade at the back so, avoiding a bad run, expect the Iron to be up there.
Wigan: Wigan have been quiet in the transfer market but their squad remains strong. If Bogle can find the form he had at Grimsby and Nick Powel can stay injury free then the Latics could be a contender for automatic promotion.
Fleetwood Town: Uwe Rosler is a very good manager and with a strong, almost unchanged side, Fleetwood look contenders again. David Ball is a hard loss but the signing of Conor McAleny is a real coup for the Cod Army. Play-offs or better again for Town.
Bradford City: The loss of Mark Marshall and Billy Clarke won’t help and with Meredith and McArdle also leaving questions remain about the Bantams defence but Stuart McCall has added Shay McCarten and Jake Reeves from Accrington and Wimbledon to give his side every chance of success again!
Southend United: The Shrimpers have kept Simon Cox and Anthony Wordsworth as well as adding Michael Kightly from Burnley. Expect them to go one better this season and make the play-offs.
Bury: The Shakers have been surprising a few with their summer transfer business and the loss of James Vaughan will be tempered by the signings of Beckford and the free kick specialist Chris Maguire. Stephen Dawson returns to add bite to the midfield, expect a good season at Gigg Lane.
MK Dons: Robbie Nelson has made sweeping changes that sees improvements across the board. Ethan Ebanks-Landell is a towering presence at the back while Peter Pawlett and Gboly Ariybi will be solid in midfield. Kieran Agard will lead the line giving Milton Keynes a strong spine upon which to build a promotion push. The loan signing of Tshibola could turn a good season into a great one!
The Also Rans:
Oxford United: There has been much upheaval at the club over the summer with Michael Appleton leaving as well as key players Chey Dunkley, Chris Maguire and captain John Lundstram. Pep Clotet will need to prove he can make the step up into management and the additions of James Henry and Jack Payne are exciting. Will need a good run to reach the play-offs.
Bristol Rovers: Rovers will be amongst a number of teams hoping to reach the play-offs and the addition of Tom Nichols will help but lack of depth in forward areas could see them fall just short.
Northampton Town: Justin Edinbrugh has kept key men Marc Richards and John-Joe O’Toole and added centre back Ash Taylor and pacey winger Daniel Powell to give the Cobblers strength in depth including Billy Waters, top scorer at League Two Cheltenham last term. Tipped as a dark horse by many, Northampton fans will hoping for a better season this time around.
Peterborough United: Once again it will be the recruits from non-league that will decide how the Posh do this term. Could start with a toothless front line as new signing Ricky Miller is banned for 6 games for biting! Pressure will be on Jack Marriott to live up to his transfer fee and defence is questionable after the loss of Michael Bostwick and Daniel Smith, mid-table is likely for the Posh this season.
Charlton Athletic: It seems a long time since Charlton were in the Premiership and they may struggle to make it into the contending pack again. New signing Mark Marshall is struggling for fitness but Ricky Holmes and Billy Clarke could be key. Karl Robinson will need to be more flexible tactically if the Addicks are to challenge in League One this term.
Portsmouth: Kenny Jackett is great appointment but he may need more time to turn Pompey into genuine contenders in League One. Brett Pitman is the stand out signing but a big squad probably lacks the quality needed to break into the play-off picture.
Rotherham United: A season of transition for the Millers. David Ball is a good signing but questions remain over the leadership qualities of Paul Warne. Some good young additions on loan and a couple of decent pros with League One experience have been added but overall expect a season of rebuilding.
Rochdale: Keith Hill’s contract extension made sense for both man and club. Jordan Williams was signed from Barrow for £100,000 and will be interesting to see how he progresses. Ian Henderson will be as important as ever to the Dale attack but defensive frailties still need addressing.
Walsall: The Saddlers have lost a number of promising players over the past few years and are yet to really replace them. They have raided the Scottish Championship for Nicky Devlin and Luke Leahy but they remain woefully short up top for a side that struggled for goals last term so it will be mid table at best for Walsall this term.
Plymouth Argyle: The Pilgrims should have enough to avoid dipping into any relegation scrap but will probably be scrapping around lower mid-table. Graham Carey signed a new contract which is a huge deal and left many a Championship club banging their fists upon the table. Ryan Edwards is a good addition at the back and Joel Grant will be eager to prove himself at a higher level following his arrival from rivals Exeter but Plymouth are unlikely to trouble the play-off places.
Doncaster Rovers: Darren Ferguson will be determined not to repeat the struggles of two years ago but even so Donnie will be more likely to consolidate than anything else. James Coppinger will be as important as ever and John Marquis will need to show he can score in League One if Rovers are to make a big impression.
Blackpool: Disunity off the field is still undermining the Tangerines and they will need to scrap to stay away from relegation. Tom Alred is a big loss in the dressing room but Mark Cullen and Brad Potts remain and will need to provide the goals if Blackpool are to stay up.
Shrewsbury Town: Paul Hurst should not be underestimated and has brought in some interesting signings. Arther Gnahoua may turn out to be the signing of the season, scoring 16 times at Kidderminster last season. Jon Nolan can pull the strings in midfield and Daniel James joins on loan from Swansea but it will be a difficult task for the Shrews if they are to avoid a relegation battle again this season.
Gillingham: Adrian Pennock is hamstrung by off the field problems and lost both Bradley Dack and Cody McDonald in the summer. He has brought in Alex Lacey to give the defence more solidity but is relying on Connor Wilkinson, signed from Bolton and Liam Nash, signed from Malden & Tiptree, to get the goals to keep the Gills up.
AFC Wimbledon: Home form could prove decisive as Neal Ardley will face a tough test this season after key players Jake Reeves, Tom Elliott, Dominic Poleon and keeper James Shea all left. Deji Oshilaja is a good addition from Cardiff and Kwesi Appiah will add pace but they will need new front man, Cody McDonald, to be in scoring form if they are to avoid the drop.
Oldham Athletic: The Latics will need all of John Sheridan’s know how if they are to avoid the drop. Inept going forward last season, they were only saved by a well organised back line marshalled by the evergreen Peter Clarke. Craig Davies is unlikely to be their goal scoring solution and Dan Gardner and Courtney Duffus may not give them the attacking options they need to survive.
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