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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
The Championship form guide
Championship

BARNSLEY

Nickname: The Tykes
Ground: Oakwell
Capacity: 23,009
Last season: 5th League One (Promoted through play-offs)
Manager: Andy Ritchie (March 2005)

In: Michael McIndoe (Doncaster, undisclosed), Sam Togwell (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Michael Coulson (Scarborough)

Out: Scott Flinders (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Chris Shuker (Tranmere), Barry Conlon (Darlington), Matt Carbon, Stephen McPhail (Cardiff)

BBC Sport verdict: Barnsley had to battle for promotion last season and things will not get any easier for them in the coming months.

Andy Ritchie is a capable manager who will get the best out of his squad.

But the Tykes will miss the quality of Stephen McPhail in midfield and unless Ritchie can drastically strengthen his squad a long, hard struggle is likely.

Key man: Michael McIndoe. Talented midfielder who needs to make his mark.


BIRMINGHAM

Nickname: The Blues
Ground: St Andrews
Capacity: 30,016
Last season: 18th Premiership (Relegated)
Manager: Steve Bruce (December 2001)

In: Cameron Jerome (Cardiff, 3m), Neil Danns (Colchester, 850,000), Stephen Kelly (Tottenham, 750,000), Bruno N'Gotty (Bolton)

Out: Jermaine Pennant (Liverpool, 6.7m), Emile Heskey (Wigan, 5.5m), Chris Sutton, Stan Lazaridis (Perth Glory), Nico Vaesen (Lierse), Chris Cottrill, Sam Alsop, James Dormand, Kenny Cunningham (Sunderland), Carl Motteram (Torquay)

BBC Sport verdict: Steve Bruce's managerial reputation was tarnished by last season's relegation and he must prove himself again.

Jermaine Pennant and Emile Heskey may have left but some canny signings mean the Blues squad still looks strong.

Star of the show is new 3m striker Cameron Jerome - one of the hottest properties outside the top flight.

Key man: Cameron Jerome. Good enough to to play for England one day.


BURNLEY

Nickname: The Clarets
Ground: Turf Moor
Capacity: 22,546
Last season: 17th
Manager: Steve Cotterill (June 2004)

In: Andy Gray (Sunderland, 750,000), Alan Mahon (Wigan, 200,00), Stephen Foster (Crewe), Steve Jones (Crewe)

Out:

BBC Sport verdict: Burnley's inconsistency meant they slid towards the drop zone by the end of the season and boss Steve Cotterill's first aim must be to put that right.

Andy Gray and Alan Mahon look like good signings and the squad has enough experience to stay clear of trouble.

Their form at Turf Moor will be key but a mid-table finish is again likely.

Key man: Alan Mahon. Skilful midfielder who needs regular first-team football.


CARDIFF CITY

Nickname: The Bluebirds
Ground: Ninian Park
Capacity: 19,000
Last season: 11th
Manager: Dave Jones (May 2005)

In: Roger Johnson (Wycombe, 275,000), Glenn Loovens (Feyenoord), Michael Chopra (Newcastle), Stephen McPhail (Barnsley), Kevin McNaughton (Aberdeen), Malvin Kamara (MK Dons), Nick McKoy (MK Dons), Mark Howard (Arsenal), Luigi Glombard (Nantes), Kerrea Gilbert (Arsenal, loan)

Out: Neal Ardley (Millwall), Cameron Jerome (Birmingham City, 3m), Neil Cox (Crewe), Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu (Gillingham), Tareq Khalil (Bournemouth)

BBC Sport verdict: Boss Dave Jones has again been busy in the transfer market with several intriguing arrivals at Ninian Park.

Newcastle wanted to keep Michael Chopra and Stephen McPhail starred in League One with Barnsley last season.

But Jones failed to sign West Brom's Jason Koumas permanently and City will surely miss Cameron Jerome up front.

Key man: Darren Purse. His leadership at the back will be vital for Cardiff.


COLCHESTER UNITED

Nickname: The U's
Ground: Layer Road
Capacity: 7,556
Last season: 2nd League One (Promoted)
Manager: Geraint Williams

In: Jamie Cureton (Swindon), Johnnie Jackson (Tottenham)

Out: Neil Danns (Birmingham City, 850,000), Stephen Hunt (Notts County), Liam Chilvers (Preston), Tony Thorpe (Stevenage), Sam Stockley (Wycombe)

BBC Sport verdict: Phil Parkinson's departure is a massive blow to the U's hopes of staying up.

Geraint Williams was eventually given the job of replacing him but he must do so without Liam Chilvers and Neil Danns.

A lot of responsibilty will fall on to the shoulders of Greg Halford in midfield if Colchester are to avoid an instant return to League One.

Key man: Greg Halford. Capable of making the step up to the Championship.


COVENTRY CITY

Nickname: The Sky Blues
Ground: Ricoh Arena
Capacity: 32,500
Last season: 8th
Manager: Micky Adams (January 2005)

In: Elliott Ward (West Ham, 1m), Wayne Andrews (Crystal Palace), Mikkel Bischoff (Manchester City), Colin Cameron (Wolves), Andy Marshall (Millwall), Jay Tabb (Brentford), David McNamee (Livingston)

Out: James Scowcroft (Crystal Palace, 500,000), Richard Shaw (Millwall), Clayton Ince (Walsall), Dennis Wise

BBC Sport verdict: Coventry finished last season strongly and are capable of continuing that momemtum - although they need to improve their away form.

Boss Micky Adams has slowly but surely built a squad that can make an impact on the Championship promotion race.

A play-off place, at least, will see the Sky Blues maintain their progress.

Key man: Dele Adebola. Provides presence and power up front.


CRYSTAL PALACE

Nickname: The Eagles
Ground: Selhurst Park
Capacity: 26,500
Last season: 6th
Manager: Peter Taylor (June 2006)

In: Leon Cort (Hull City, 1.25m), James Scowcroft (Coventry, 500,000), Scott Flinders (Barnsley, undisclosed), Mark Kennedy (Wolves), Carl Fletcher (West Ham, 400,000)

Out: Emmerson Boyce (Wigan, 1m), Andrew Johnson (Everton, 8.6m), Fitz Hall (Wigan, undisclosed), Sam Togwell (Barnsley, undisclosed), Mikele Leigertwood (Sheffield United, undisclosed), Wayne Andrews (Coventry City), Tony Popovic (Al Arabi Qatar), Aki Riihilahti, Glenn Wilson free),

BBC Sport verdict: It has been a summer of upheaval at Selhurst Park.

New boss Peter Taylor must do without the goals of Andy Johnson but new signings Leon Cort and James Scowcroft will help plug the gap.

Eagles fans will no doubt expect a challenge for promotion but patience will be the key word for Taylor and co.

Key man: Clinton Morrison. Time for him to produce the goods.


DERBY COUNTY

Nickname: The Rams
Ground: Pride Park
Capacity: 33,597
Last season: 20th
Manager: Billy Davies (June 2006)

In: Steve Howard (Luton, 1m)

Out: Pablo Mills (Rotherham), Jeff Kenna, Kevin Poole

BBC Sport verdict: The Rams will approach this season with renewed vigour following the appointment of Billy Davies as manager.

Steve Howard will add a physical presence up front, while the guile of Inigo Idiakez provides the creativity.

Davies steered Preston to the play-offs last season and could repeat the feat here if his squad keep clear of injury.

Key man: Inigo Idiakez. The veteran Spaniard is a class act in midfield.


HULL CITY

Nickname: The Tigers
Ground: KC Stadium
Capacity: 25,000
Last season: 18th
Manager: Phil Parkinson (June 2006)

In: David Livermore (Leeds, undisclosed), Michael Turner (Brentford, 350,000), Sam Ricketts (Swansea, 325,000), Dean Marney (Tottenham, undisclosed)

Out: Leon Cort (Crystal Palace, 1.25m), Robbie Stockdale (Tranmere), Kevin Ellison (Tranmere), Scott Wiseman (Rotherham, loan)

BBC Sport verdict: Last season was all about consolidation for Hull and losing boss Peter Taylor may hold them back for a while.

But Phil Parkinson is a young manager of huge potential and should be given time to settle in at the KC Stadium.

Leon Cort has followed Taylor to Palace but the capture of Dean Marney from Tottenham could be an inspired buy.

Key man: Jon Parkin. Combative striker who leads the line to great effect.


IPSWICH TOWN

Nickname: The Blues/Tractor Boys
Ground: Portman Road
Capacity: 30,300
Last season: 15th
Manager: Jim Magilton (June 2006)

In:

Out: Kevin Horlock (Doncaster), Dean McDonald (Gillingham)

BBC Sport verdict: Jim Magilton was a popular choice in the dressing room and on the terraces to succeed Joe Royle as boss.

There is no money to buy players so he has to make do with Royle's squad.

It is unlikely to be a campaign to remember - but the future looks bright with a number of talented youngsters making their way in the first team.

Key man: Sam Parkin. Has a point to prove after an injury-hit year.


LEEDS

Nickname: The Whites
Ground: Elland Road
Capacity: 40,204
Last season: 5th
Manager: Kevin Blackwell (May 2004)

In: Kevin Nicholls (Luton, 750,000), David Livermore (Millwall, 400,000), Sebastien Carole (Brighton, free)

Out: Rob Hulse (Sheff Utd, 2.2m), David Livermore (Hull, undisclosed), Simon Walton (Charlton, 500,000), Danny Pugh (Preston, 250,000), Michael Ricketts (Southend), Jermaine Wright (Southampton), Ben Parker (Bradford, loan)

BBC Sport verdict: The brilliant rebuilding job Kevin Blackwell has carried out at Elland Road continued last season.

He has made more canny signings this summer, with Kevin Nicholls looking a steal at 750,000 from Luton Town.

After defeat in the play-off final in 2005, Blackwell will be looking for an automatic promotion place next spring.

Key man: Sean Gregan. Bustling midfielder who can use the ball too.


LEICESTER

Nickname: The Foxes
Ground: The Walkers Stadium
Capacity: 32,500
Last season: 16th
Manager: Rob Kelly (April 2006)

In: Josh Low (Northampton), Darren Kenton (Southampton), Gareth McAuley (Lincoln), Andy Johnson (West Brom)

Out: Joey Gudjonsson (AZ Alkmaar)

BBC Sport verdict: After two years of struggles could it be Leicester's turn to mount a promotion challenge?

Manager Rob Kelly achieved some excellent results after taking the reigns from Craig Levein last season.

Much will rely on strikers Matt Fryatt and Iain Hume but the creativity of new midfield signing Andy Johnson means they should have plenty of chances.

Key man: Matt Fryatt. Has the attitude and talent to play in the Premiership.


LUTON TOWN

Nickname: The Hatters
Ground: Kenilworth Road
Capacity: 9,975
Last season: 10th
Manager: Mike Newell (June 2003)

In: Adam Boyd (Hartlepool, 500,000), Richard Langley (QPR), Lewis Emanuel (Bradford)

Out: Steve Howard (Derby, 1m), Kevin Nicholls (Leeds, 750,000), Enoch Showunmi (Bristol City)

BBC Sport verdict: The loss of Kevin Nicholls and Steve Howard makes life more difficult for Luton after they impressed last season.

But the Hatters got 1.7m for the duo and there is plenty left from the 3m sale of Curtis Davies last summer too.

Any improvement on last season will depend on how Newell spends his money but they should survive comfortably.

Key man: Carlos Edwards. Had a great World Cup for Trinidad & Tobago.


NORWICH

Nickname: The Canaries
Ground: Carrow Road
Capacity: 26,034
Last season: 9th
Manager: Nigel Worthington (December 2000)

In: Lee Croft (Manchester City, 600,000)

Out: Jason Jarrett (Preston, undisclosed), Shane Herbert (Cambridge United)

BBC Sport verdict: Boss Nigel Worthington came under fire from Canaries fans last season after failing to get out of mid-table.

He spent 3.5m on Robert Earnshaw to improve his side's scoring power but still needs a target man to play alongside the diminutive Welshman.

Otherwise it looks like being another frustrating season at Carrow Road.

Key man: Robert Earnshaw. Will be a threat to every Championship defence.


PLYMOUTH

Nickname: The Pilgrims
Ground: Home Park
Capacity: 20,134
Last season: 14th
Manager: Ian Holloway (June 2006)

In: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Manchester United, 200,000), Barry Hayles (Millwall, 100,000)

Out: Micky Evans (Torquay)

BBC Sport verdict: Another survival battle looks on the cards at Home Park.

Ian Holloway's sides are rarely easy to beat and he will need to instill all of his battling qualities into the Pilgrims if they are to stay up.

Much is expected of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake who has arrived from Manchester United with a big reputation.

Key man: David Norris. Will need to be at his best in the Pilgrims' midfield.


PRESTON NORTH END

Nickname: The Lilywhites
Ground: Deepdale
Capacity: 21,412
Last season: 4th
Manager: Paul Simpson (June 2006)

In: Danny Pugh (Leeds, 250,000), Sean St Ledger (Peterborough, 225,000), Jason Jarrett (Norwich, undisclosed), Kelvin Wilson (Notts County, undisclosed), Liam Chilvers (Colchester)

Out: Claude Davis (Sheffield United, 2.5m), Dave Hibbert (Rotherham), Tyrone Mears (West Ham, 1m), Chris Lucketti (Sheffield United, 300,000), Gavin Ward (Tranmere)

BBC Sport verdict: It is all change at Deepdale with Paul Simpson replacing boss Billy Davies and several key defensive players leaving.

Simpson had success with Carlisle last season but he could need time to adjust to life in the Championship.

There is still plenty of optimisim around the club but a mid-table finish is probably the best they can hope for.

Key man: David Nugent. Will be hoping to continue his impressive progress.


QPR

Nickname: Rangers/R's/Hoops
Ground: Loftus Road
Capacity: 19,148
Last season: 21st
Manager: Gary Waddock (June 2006)

In: Egutu Oliseh (La Louviere), Armel Tchakounte (Kitchee FC), Nick Ward (Perth Glory), Damion Stewart (Bradford), Adam Czerkas (Kolporter Korona, loan),

Out: Dean Sturridge (Kidderminster), Richard Langley (Luton)

BBC Sport verdict: New boss Gary Waddock had a difficult introduction to the job last season.

But although results were bad, some performances showed promise. Waddock has the club in his blood and has pledged to play attractive football too.

He has strengthened his squad over the summer but needs a good start to avoid a lengthy battle against the drop.

Key man: Nick Ward. Big things are expected from this Aussie youngster.


SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

Nickname: The Owls
Ground: Hillsborough
Capacity: 39,800
Last season: 19th
Manager: Paul Sturrock (September 2004)

In: Wade Small (MK Dons, undisclosed), Yoann Folly (Southampton, undisclosed), Madjid Bougherra (Gueugnon), Kenny Lunt (Crewe)

Out: Drissa Diallo (MK Dons), Craig Rocastle (Oldham), Ritchie Partridge (Rotherham), Jon-Paul McGovern (MK Dons), Patrick Collins (Darlington), David Lucas, David Graham (Bradford, loan)

BBC Sport verdict: The Owls found it tough going last year in their first season back in the Championship after a two-year absence.

Manager Paul Sturrock has bought well in Kenny Lunt, Yoann Folly and Madjid Bougherra but it remains to be seen how his side will gel together.

It may be a struggle for them to keep their heads above water again.

Key man: Steven MacLean. Classy striker fit again after a broken leg.


SOUTHAMPTON

Nickname: Saints
Ground: St Mary's Stadium
Capacity: 32,000
Last season: 12th
Manager: George Burley (December 2005)

In: Gregorz Rasiak (Tottenham, 2m), Rudi Skacel (Hearts, 1.6m), Kelvin Davis (Sunderland, 1m), Bradley Wright-Phillips (Manchester City, undisclosed), Pele (Belenenses, undisclosed), Jermaine Wright (Leeds), Marcelo Sarmiento (Club Atletico Racing de Cordoba, loan)

Out: Yoann Folly (Sheffield Wednesday, undisclosed), Darren Kenton (Leicester), Paul Smith (Nottm Forest)

BBC Sport verdict: Southampton struggled for goals last season and that was the main reason they ended up marooned in mid-table.

The Saints squad has been strengthened in every area over the summer but the most exciting signing is Rudi Skacel, who will help solve that problem.

A top-six place is the least George Burley should expect from his side.

Key man: Rudi Skacel. Skilful midfielder with an eye for goal.


SOUTHEND UNITED

Nickname: The Shrimpers
Ground: Roots Hall
Capacity: 12,392
Last season: 1st League One (Promoted)
Manager: Steve Tilson (November 2003)

In: Michael Ricketts (Leeds), Simon Francis (Sheffield United), Steve Collis (Yeovil), Steven Hammell (Motherwell)

Out: Duncan Jupp (Gillingham), Wayne Gray (Yeovil), Carl Petterfer (Oxford), Mark Bentley (Gillingham), Shaun Goater, Bart Griemink, Andy Edwards

BBC Sport verdict: After two successive promotions, survival is surely the objective for Southend boss Steve Tilson.

Striker Freddy Eastwood will be keen to prove he can score at this level as well as in the lower leagues.

If he and new signing Michael Ricketts gel, then the Blues can stay up - otherwise they are in trouble.

Key man: Freddy Eastwood. Can he keep up his phenomenal scoring form?


STOKE CITY
Latest club news

Nickname: The Potters
Ground: Britannia Stadium
Capacity: 28,384
Last season: 13th
Manager: Tony Pulis (June 2006)

In: Vincent Pericard (Portsmouth)

Out: Ed De Goey

BBC Sport verdict: Tony Pulis is back in charge at the Britannia Stadium after a year away and should ensure a solid season for Stoke.

The only problem could be a lack of goals and a lot will rely on whether Vincent Pericard can find the net on a regular basis if Sam Bangoura leaves.

Relegation will not be an issue - but a play-off place is unlikely too.

Key man: John Eustace. Talented midfielder who must stay injury-free.


SUNDERLAND
Latest club news

Nickname: The Black Cats
Ground: Stadium of Light
Capacity: 48,300
Last season: 20th Premiership (Relegated)
Manager: Niall Quinn (July 2006)

In: Kenny Cunningham (Birmingham)

Out: Julia Arca (Middlesbrough, 1.75m), Andy Gray (Burnley, 750,000), Kelvin Davis (Southampton, undisclosed), Joe Murphy (Scunthorpe), Gary Breen (Wolves), Martin Woods (Rotherham)

BBC Sport verdict: After the doom and gloom of a truly dismal relegation season, Niall Quinn's return has given the whole club a lift.

Julia Arca's departure is a blow but though the squad was not good enough for the top flight there is more than enough quality to thrive at this level.

Quinn may be a rookie boss but he will see promotion as a realistic target.

Key man: Stephen Elliott. Fit again and needs to rediscover his scoring form.


WEST BROM
Latest club news

Nickname: The Baggies
Ground: The Hawthorns
Capacity: 28,003
Last season: 19th Premiership (Relegated)
Manager: Bryan Robson (November 2004)

In: John Hartson (Celtic, undisclosed), Chris Perry (Charlton), Pascal Zuberbuhler (FC Basle), Michael Nardiello

Out: Geoff Horsfield (Sheffield United 1.2m), Andy Johnson (Leicester City), Lloyd Dyer, Brian Smikle (Kidderminster, free)

BBC Sport verdict: Not having to sell any players after their relegation automatically puts the Baggies among the favourites to go up.

New arrivals John Hartson and Chris Perry will add quality and know-how to an already experienced squad.

And rising stars Curtis Davies and Tomasz Kuszczak should not have to wait long to return to the top-flight.

Key man: Curtis Davies. His talent deserves to be in the Premiership.


WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
Latest club news

Nickname: Wolves
Ground: Molineux
Capacity: 28,525
Last season: 7th
Manager: Mick McCarthy (July 2006)

In: Gary Breen (Sunderland), Guilherme Finkler (Juventude, season-long loan), Jay Bothroyd (Charlton)

Out: Joleon Lescott (Everton, 5m), Seol Ki-Hyeon (Reading, undisclosed), Kenny Miller (Celtic, undisclosed), Colin Cameron (Coventry City).

BBC Sport verdict: Wolves' pre-season preparations were thrown into chaos by Glenn Hoddle's departure and new boss Mick McCarthy has had little time to settle in.

McCarthy had a troubled time in the Premiership with Sunderland last year but knows his way around this level.

Money is tight but McCarthy is the right man to steady the ship.

Key man: Carl Cort. Important for him to get amongst the goals early on.



SEE ALSO
George Burley on The Championship
01 Aug 06 |  Southampton
The Championship ones to watch
01 Aug 06 |  Championship


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