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Tuesday 5th August 2014
League One looks as competitive as ever this year with none of the three relegated teams, Barnsley, Doncaster or Yeovil looking like obvious contenders for an instant return to the Championship. Joining them are Rochdale, Scunthorpe, Chesterfield and play-off victors Fleetwood, Jack Critchley takes a look at each teams chances.

Takeovers have been the big story of the summer in this division with a failed bid at Doncaster and a successful Italian one at Leyton Orient. I didn't originally fancy the O's, but they have made some impressive signings with the standout import being Jobi McAnuff, who should terrorise many a League One full-back. Darius Henderson should ruffle up a few centre backs whilst Shane Lowry will add plenty of Football League experience at the back. The play off losers may take a few weeks to find their feet, but Russell Slade did a fantastic job last season and will have to hope that the new additions haven't impacted negatively on the superb team spirit shown last campaign.

Sheffield United have been installed as favourites and with their end of season form, it's hard to argue with their placement at the top of the betting tree. They have lost Harry Maguire, but have added Championship experience in the form of Chris Basham and the addition of the reliable Andy Butler from Walsall is also a positive. Jose Baxter, Stefan Scougall, Jamie Murphy were all excellent towards the end of last season and they will be joined by Marc McNulty, James Wallace and Jamal Campbell Ryce. Nigel Clough will have his team fired up for their opener with Bristol City and it's hard to put anyone off backing them. Expectation may weigh heavy on the shoulders of a number of the younger squad members and it's important that the mixture of youth and experience gels and the team can put together another run akin to the second half of last season.

Bristol City should also have a good season, Steve Cotterill had them in good shape towards the latter half of the season but it's imperative they keep hold of Sam Baldock and Jay Emmanuel Thomas until May. Luke Freeman is a skillful addition who will score goals and provide ammunition for the strikers whilst Wade Elliott signing permanently is a coup for the club.

Fleetwood could surprise a few with solid additions such as Jamie Proctor, Keith Southern and Stephen Crainey. Barnsley may be the pick of the relegated sides having opted for young, hungry players such as Conor Hourihane, Kane Hemmings and Luke Berry but they have lost the excellent Luke Steele and there is a large turnover of players which may take time to adapt to Danny Wilson's style.

Preston should go well once again, but if you wanted an outside bet, I would opt for Coventry. They may be buoyed by news of a possible return to their own town mid-way through the season, they boast a frontline of Shaun Miller and Marcus Tudgay who will undoubtedly score goals. Mohamed Coulibaly hasn't played much for Bournemouth but is supposedly useful whilst Reda Johnson and Danny Pugh are solid signing who can help the plethora of youngsters that the Sky Blues are bringing through. Steven Pressley has proved is a capable manager and I fancy them for a top 6 finish.

At the bottom, I worry for Crewe, who seem to have lost all of their strikers and forward thinking players from last season. They have signed Marcus Haber, formerly of Stevenage, but he was hardly prolific. They have some talented youngsters, but it may all be too much and starting again in League Two may be the best way of developing some of their seemingly endless pool of potential.

I also fear Crawley's completely new squad, which may be weaker than last season and may not be afforded the luxury of settling down time. No less than 15 players have signed this summer with 17 leaving, it's been three months of frenzied activity in Sussex and only Jimmy Smith, Izale McLeod and Gwion Edwards look like having the potential to excite.

Oldham & Notts County will improve on last season, whilst Colchester will be there or thereabouts, but will probably survive in the final few weeks. Of the promoted teams, I think Rochdale and Chesterfield may be down towards the wrong end of the table. I rate Keith Hill as a manager, but I can't say I am impressed by the likes of Sean McGinty and Calvin Andrew signing over the summer. He will have to hope that the nucleus of last year's squad a number of younger players put in performances week in, week out.

It's going to be another great season in England's third tier and there will a number of interesting twists and turns at both ends of the table.

Jack Critchley
Blackpool fan who enjoys a spot of the football league. I follow Championship through to League Two.

Total articles: 18

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