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Championship guide: Derby County - Leicester City

Nigel Clough, Sean O'Driscoll, Nigel Pearson, Roy Keane, Paul Grayson and Paolo Sousa

BBC Sport's club-by-club guide to the 2010/11 Championship season, from Derby County to Leicester City.

DERBY COUNTY
Derby County

Manager: Nigel Clough

Last Season: 14th

Strengths: Boss Clough, entering his third season with the Rams, has given the club a stability it has not had for years. The American owners believe Clough is the man to take Derby back to the Premier League and will give him the time to do that.

Weaknesses: The squad still lacks strength in depth and another run of injuries similar to that they suffered last year could have an adverse effect on results.

Key man: Midfielder Kris Commons - if he can stay fit - can be the difference between Derby being mid-table and flirting with the top six.

DONCASTER ROVERS
Doncaster Rovers

Manager: Sean O'Driscoll

Last season: 12th

Strengths: Rovers are one of the best passing sides outside the Premier League and a team that stick to their footballing principles at all times.

Weaknesses: Turning the possession they enjoy into goals and ultimately, wins.

Key man: Striker Billy Sharp cost a club record £1.15m from Sheffield United. If he can beat last season's total of 15 goals, then Rovers could be the Championship's surprise package.

HULL CITY
Hull City

Manager: Nigel Pearson

Last season: 19th in the Premier League, relegated.

Strengths: Promising young talent in Tom Cairney, Liam Cooper and Mark Cullen, who had varying degrees of involvement in last season's eventual relegation from the Premier League.

Weaknesses: Scoring goals. Caleb Folan and Craig Fagan are not prolific enough, while Kamel Ghilas has left the club on loan.

Key man: When he is not injured, midfielder Jimmy Bullard is still the most creative and exciting player at the club. Keen to offload the former Fulham man, Pearson has left him out of the pre-season programme, but chairman Adam Pearson has said that Bullard will be available on the opening day if he is still at the KC Stadium.

IPSWICH TOWN
Ipswich Town

Manager: Roy Keane

Last season: 15th

Strengths: Keane has moulded a hard-working side with his own never-say-die attitude. The addition of a little extra quality could see a marked improvement on last season.

Weaknesses: Goal scoring was a problem last term, particularly at Portman Road, and as yet no new strikers have arrived.

Player to watch: With goals at a premium, much is expected of young striker Connor Wickham, who has risen to prominence thanks to his goalscoring exploits for England at the Under-17 European Championships.

LEEDS UNITED
Leeds United

Manager: Simon Grayson

Last season: Second in League One, promoted.

Strengths: Grayson has experience of keeping Blackpool, who had far less resources than Leeds, in the Championship.

Weaknesses: United have injury concerns over forwards Robert Snodgrass and Billy Paynter. With Max Gradel and Davide Somma suspended, Grayson has only Luciano Becchio and the inexperienced Mike Grella to play up front.

Key man: Winger Snodgrass could be a major influence in the Championship. The former Livingston man has been hailed by the United backroom staff as another, like Jermaine Beckford before him, who could play in the Premier League.

LEICESTER CITY
Leicester City

Manager: Paulo Sousa

Last season: Fifth, beaten in play-off semi-finals.

Strengths: The Foxes defence is well-schooled and, if Sousa's pedigree as a player rubs off on the squad, confidence should not be a problem.

Weaknesses: Leicester used the loan market very well last season but, to date, this is not something that Sousa has utilised to any real effect.

Key man: Striker DJ Campbell has been left out in the cold in recent years but the change in management may give him his chance.

Reporting by BBC Radio Humberside's Mike White, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Peter Swan, BBC Radio Derby's Colin Gibson, BBC Radio Leicester's Ian Stringer, BBC Radio Sheffield's Seth Bennett and BBC Radio Leeds' Adam Pope.



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see also
Football League lowdown
03 Aug 10 |  Football
Championship: Barnsley - Crystal Palace
03 Aug 10 |  Championship
Championship: Middlesbrough - Preston
03 Aug 10 |  Championship
Championship: QPR - Watford
03 Aug 10 |  Championship


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