Phil Hay assesses the teams who might challenge Leeds United for a place in the top flight.
BOLTON WANDERERS: The first time in 11 years that the name of Bolton Wanderers has been missing from the Premier League’s fixture list. Did they panic? Did they heck. Owen Coyle remained as manager and many established players stayed with him, and Bolton will set out this season as the bookmakers’ favourites. Kevin Davies, David N’Gog, Martin Petrov, Zak Knight, Darren Pratley...If a squad so rich in talent isn’t good enough for promotion then Coyle, I’m afraid, will not be long for the world of the Reebok Stadium.
CARDIFF CITY: Neil Warnock rates Malky Mackay so highly that he recommended the Scot as his long-term successor as manager of Queens Park Rangers manager. But Mackay went to Cardiff last summer and took the club into the play-offs at the first attempt – doing so with a squad worth a fraction of that which finished inside the top six during Dave Jones’ final season as boss. Cardiff have that look about them again and their deal of the summer was the permanent signing of Craig Bellamy. Heidar Helguson looks like an add-on in comparison.
LEICESTER CITY: The last time Nigel Pearson took charge of Leicester for a full season, the club reached the play-offs. The squad he has now is considerably better and it is inconceivable that City will drift under his management like they did under Sven-Goran Eriksson, a coach for whom Championship football was never really intended. Pearson needs 20 goals from Jermaine Beckford and more consistency from his defence but a strong team is hiding among the crowd of players at the KP Stadium – and the transfer window has another two weeks to run.
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