Leicester City were crowned League One champions last season and won promotion to the Championship
The new League One season gets underway on Saturday, and it is building up to be one of the most exciting seasons in English football's third tier with no fewer than six former Premier League clubs aiming for promotion.
The latest ex-top flight recruits are Charlton, Norwich and Southampton, who were all relegated from the Championship last year, and they will join Leeds United, Oldham and Swindon Town.
And they can expect a tough challenge in a division that is full of ambition.
How did they do last year? The Bees finished as champions of League Two on one of the smallest playing budgets, after two seasons in the basement division. They were among the leaders for most of the season, in a league which no-one seemed to want to be promoted from.
Who's the gaffer? Ably assisted by old-school coach Terry Bullivant, Bees boss Andy Scott saved the team in January 2007, at which point they were struggling in 18th place in League Two. Scott spent most of his playing career in the lower divisions but his playing days ended suddenly due to a life-threatening heart condition. A lot of his peers are in coaching roles now, hence useful young bucks coming in as loanees, especially goalkeepers.
Who's the player to watch? The two youngsters on the left work very well together. Ryan Dickson and Sam Wood are interchangeable as left winger and left-back, and if the new signings on the right can do the same Bees will be difficult to beat.
How will they do? "We're a trifle light on fit strikers at the moment - a total of six were hospitalised in the last seven weeks of the 2008/09 campaign,"says BBC London's Billy Reeves. "The most important of these, Charlie Macdonald, will be out until November. Bees fans are hoping a proven goalscorer will be coming in on loan, as was the case last term. With the state of the finances at the club a top-half finish and no relegation crisis will be acceptable."
How did they do last year? There was last-day drama at the Withdean as League One safety was secured after a 1-0 win over Stockport County on the final day of the season.
Who's the gaffer? Former Yeovil Town boss Russell Slade, who departed Huish Park in February, is now on permanent contract after steering Brighton to safety in League One. He is a good character who enjoys a laugh too.
Who's the player to watch? Much is expected of Liam Dickinson, who has joined from Derby County on a three-year deal. His arrival may lead to the the departure of unsettled Glenn Murray.
How will they do? "Brighton will be pushing for the play-offs," says BBC Sussex's Johnny Cantor. "Slade has instilled a good team spirit and after releasing 14 has brought in dependable players such as Gary Dicker from Stockport and Andrew Crofts in midfield. Much will depend on whether Liam Dickinson, Nicky Forster, Glenn Murray or Craig Davies can imitate the role of Lloyd Owusu, who has left for Australia and was key to survival. Gary Hart has been handed a new contract and is in the form of his life - albeit in the twilight of his career."
How did they do last year? The Pirates finished 11th in their second season back in League One after hovering around mid-table for pretty much the whole season. They were good entertainment, smashing in 79 league goals.
Who's the gaffer? Former Rovers midfielder Paul Trollope starts his fourth full season in charge with the team having improved year-on-year since he and Lennie Lawrence took over. He is a meticulous planner, leaving no detail to chance.
Who's the player to watch? Keeping striker Rickie Lambert is a real fillip, but fellow forward Jo Kuffour is also a genuine crowd pleaser. Unlike last year, he's managed a full pre-season campaign, so expect him to shine in an exciting Rovers front-line that also includes Darryl Duffy.
How will they do? "Rovers will finish in the top half and have a chance of making the play-offs," says BBC Radio Bristol's Alistair Durden. "If Rickie Lambert can repeat last year's fantastic form and Danny Coles can stay fit at the back they have the opportunity, but they are battling it out with larger clubs and bigger spenders. They need to get off to a good start."
How did they do last year? Carlisle avoided relegation on the last day of the season by beating Millwall 2-0, while Northampton lost against Leeds to go down. But the year before they had made the play-off semi-final, when they lost to Leeds.
Who's the gaffer? Cumbrians boss Greg Abbott has twice been an assistant and caretaker boss at Brunton Park so this is his first full stint in charge. He still has a lot to prove to win the fans over.
Who's the player to watch? Prodigious 18-year-old Gary Madine has an outstanding scoring-record at youth and reserve level but he needs to make the step up this year. Also Tom Taiwo, who has signed on six-month loan from Chelsea, is worth keeping an eye on. He is highly rated and one of the two players Ken Bates accused the Blues of tapping up when signed from Leeds United as youngsters.
How will they do? "Carlisle United have cut £600,000 from their wage budget, and it shows," says BBC Radio Cumbria's James Phillips. "No Michael Bridges and no top scorer in Danny Graham means goals will be hard to come by. A lot of faith will be put in youngsters and, if they fail, so will United unless money is spent in January."
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How did they do last year? Considering they were expected to be promoted, they were spectacularly poor. There was little passion and commitment from the majority of the players, as they suffered relegation from the Championship.
Who's the gaffer? Following the departure of Alan Pardew, Phil Parkinson took over but could not steer Athletic to safety. Considering he didn't halt the disastrous downward spiral during the season many fans are surprised that his still in charge. He and the players will have to perform from the start to win over the fans.
Who's the player to watch? Young midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has been courted by a number of Premier League clubs and Charlton will be hoping that they can keep hold of him. Also look out for midfielder Therry Racon and full-back Kelly Youga.
How will they do? "Play-offs at best, serious rebuilding is needed especially in defence and let's hope the strikers can score goals," says BBC Sport's Tony Garrett.
How did they do last year? Finished 12th in League One which, after a really poor start, could be seen as a success as they looked destined for a relegation battle. Geraint Williams left as manager in October and Paul Lambert was brought in to prevent a second successive relegation. A 12-match unbeaten run under Lambert saw them hit the fringes of the play-off race before falling away.
Who's the gaffer? Champions League winner and Scottish international Lambert did a good firefighting job in moving the U's away from the drop zone last season. He demands high standards from his players and the work-rate has certainly been raised noticeably. A born winner and a tough competitor who hates losing.
Who's the player to watch? Lambert has rung the changes with plenty of new faces but hopes are high that striker Steven Gillespie can come good. He was the club's record signing last summer from Cheltenham but persistent injuries meant the fans never got to see him at his best. But, in short spurts, he got plenty of chances and could be the man to get the goals they missed last season. Man-mountain defender Magnus Okuonghae has signed from Dagenham & Redbridge while Ben Williams and David Fox look to be astute signings.
How will they do? "They should be in the shake-up for the play-offs in what looks to be a hugely competitive division," says BBC Essex's Glenn Speller.
How did they do last year? Exeter City re-wrote their history books last season and clinched successive promotions for the first time. After just a year back in League Two, the Grecians secured the runners-up spot following a final day victory against Rotherham. City will now be playing in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1994.
Who's the gaffer? Hailed a hero by the St James Park faithful, 36-year-old Paul Tisdale helped steer Exeter away from non-league oblivion to League One in just three seasons in charge. He is renowned for being thoughtful and shrewd with his signings and has collected over £700,000 from the sale of Dean Moxey and George Friend while, to date, not spending a penny on bringing players to the club.
Who's the player to watch? The emphasis on the Grecians' success in recent years has been put down to the team effort, rather than any one player. However, striker Richard Logan, who scored the winning goal on the last day of the season, is always a threat and looks dangerous. He can turn half-chances into much needed goals, which is going to be crucial to Exeter's survival hopes this season.
How will they do? "Many Exeter City supporters will be happy to see their team consolidate a position in League One," says BBC Radio Devon's James Vickery. "However, the same was said when the club clinched promotion back into the Football League and the team surpassed all expectations by gaining back-to-back promotions in May. Their first two games will test just how much they can compete at a new level - with the Grecians travelling to Elland Road to take on Leeds United and hosting Norwich City the following week. I think they'll stay up with a mid-table finish and then build from there."
How did they do last year? The Gills only briefly flirted with the automatic promotion places in League Two, but a good last month of the season meant they were the form side going into the play-offs. Simeon Jackson's late goal won the final against Shrewsbury at Wembley to send the team back to League One at the first time of asking.
Who's the gaffer? Gills boss Mark Stimson came from Stevenage Borough with a great reputation in non-league football. He took over during the 2007/8 season, but despite making wholesale changes to the playing staff, could not keep them up in League One. He never shirks a question in post-match interviews - win or lose - and was particularly forthright about some of the players he inherited from previous manager Ronnie Jepson. Strangely, it's taken some of the Gills faithful a while to warm to him - though the Wembley win should have thawed all but the iciest of objectors.
Who's the player to watch? Last season's player of the year, defensive lynchpin Simon King and top scorer Simeon Jackson were probably most often mentioned in dispatches in League Two - but the speed and trickery of winger Andy Barcham turned a number of games in the Gills' favour last year. His decision to re-sign this summer could be the Kent club's best bit of business ahead of the new season.
How will they do? "The bookies have them in lower mid-table, and with a small squad and a limited budget, more realistic Gills fans will be happy to settle for any position outside the bottom four," says BBC Radio Kent's Matthew Cole. "The romantics among us will point out that the promotions to the Championship of teams like Colchester, Scunthorpe and Doncaster in recent seasons have been based on fitness and team spirit. Mark Stimson's squad have both in spades, and given that he's been to Wembley three times as a manager and never lost, how about another triumphant play-off campaign?"
How did they do last year? Pools just managed to survive in League One on the final day thanks to results going their way. Danny Wilson was sacked as manager during the season and replaced by the club's director of sport Chris Turner. He is still in charge and will be looking to replicate his first spell as boss which saw regular appearances in the play-offs.
Who's the gaffer? Former Sheffield Wednesday boss Turner is hugely popular with the Pools fans. He is director of sport at Victoria Park but will also fill the manager's role in the new season. His assistant Colin West will be important as he will shoulder a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities of managing the team.
Who's the player to watch? Striker James Brown is a tremendous talent but he missed most of last season with a serious injury. He is working his way back to fitness now and should form a potent partnership with Adam Boyd, who is back with his hometown club following spells with Luton Town and Leyton Orient.
How will they do? "With seven new players already signed and possibly three more to come, it all depends on how quickly the new players settle in," says BBC Tees' Brian Arrundale. "Patience will be required from the fans and a top-half finish will be a success in such a strong league."
How did they do last year? The 2008/09 season was another turbulent one for Huddersfield and involved another change of manager. In their centenary year the season started with promotion hopes high once more, but under boss Stan Ternent the club never got going. He was axed by November and the Town ship was steadied by caretaker Gerry Murphy before Lee Clark took the reigns and installed a new spirit within the club. Town threatened a late surge for the play-offs but their inconsistency cost them and they finished ninth.
Who's the gaffer? Former Newcastle United midfielder Clark took over at Huddersfield in December and this is his first fully-fledged managerial position. The 36-year-old moved from Norwich City where he worked as the assistant to Glenn Roeder. While clearly still learning his trade Clark seems to have natural talent and has shown he is not scared to make tough selection decisions.
Who's the player to watch? England Under-19 goalkeeper Alex Smithies will start the season as Town's number one and all eyes will be on him to see if he can match his form of last season. Town did everything in their power to get Smithies to sign a new four-year deal in the summer, to keep him away from the advances of both Everton and Spurs. The performances of new signing Anthony Kay will also be vital. Tranmere's player of the year last season is the tough tackling, direct midfield general that Town have been desperately missing for years.
How will they do? "With a big spending new-chairman and an ambitious boss at the helm, Huddersfield mean business this season and nothing but promotion will do for them," says BBC Radio Leeds' Paul Ogden. "A top-six finish is the least Town have to achieve this season and they are more than capable of doing that. Automatic promotion is very possible too, but that will depend largely on the success and performances of all the vast new signings."
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How did they do last year? Leeds fell disappointingly at the penultimate hurdle losing in the League One play-off semi-final after a campaign in which they were one of the favourites to make the top two. They started the season having lost the previous year's play-off final and under Gary McAllister started reasonably well. However, by December they were knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Histon and suffered five defeats on the bounce which cost McAllister his job and left Simon Grayson with the proverbial mountain to climb. He almost made it but despite his excellent efforts the season was a failure for the club.
Who's the gaffer? Yorkshireman Grayson has won the hearts and minds of the fans. After McAllister was sacked the former Leeds, Blackburn Leicester City and Aston Villa player picked up a struggling team, instilled them with confidence and made them almost impregnable at home. His calm manner, ability to change games with substitutions and attract players of the stature of Richard Naylor has left fans feeling that the side is in the hands of man who can at the very least bring Championship football back to Elland Road.
Who's the player to watch? The key man is Robert Snodgrass, who was outstanding last season. He was brought in by McAllister to play wide and his goals and work rate belied the fact that he was often used from the bench. Under Grayson he has blossomed and United coach Ian Miller believes the former Livingstone player can go all the way to the top.
How will they do? "Leeds will finish in the top six but will find it very hard to go straight up," says BBC Radio Leeds' Adam Pope. "Each year they seem to be favourites for automatic promotion but no longer are they the biggest spenders in a division which will be even more difficult to escape at the third attempt. Also, the early signs are that the players leaving the club are not being replaced by anything better. Plus, if Beckford follows Delph out of Elland Road then Grayson has lost his two most potent weapons. However, he has a decent record in the loan market and that may be the key to adding to a squad which most still expect to challenge for the top honours."
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How did they do last year? When Geraint Williams took charge of the O's back in February, most supporters believed that their team where doomed to drop to the basement division. Under Martin Ling Orient lacked punch up front and were a soft touch at the back. But the arrival of the former Colchester boss provided a change of direction. Williams' first signing was an unlikely success. At 35 Scott McGleish was not featuring in Peter Taylor's plans at Wycombe. But Williams knew about the veteran striker's fighting qualities from when they were together at Colchester. McGleish led from the front and provided the edge that was needed to win the battle for survival.
Who's the gaffer? Williams was an old fashioned ball winner for the likes of Bristol Rovers, Derby, Ipswich and Colchester, where he hung up his boots in 2000. As assistant to Phil Parkinson he played a key part in bringing Championship football to Layer Road. Parkinson's departure in 2006 provided him with the opportunity to take charge. Colchester were the bookies favourites for relegation, but Williams exceeded all expectations, leading them to an unlikely push for the play-offs. But the following season saw Colchester slip back down and a bad start to their League One campaign forced him to leave in September 2008.
Who's the player to watch? Romanian striker Adrian Patulea signed from Lincoln City in the summer turning down a new deal to stay at Sincil Bank. The 24-year-old scored 11 goals in 31 matches for the Imps and will be looking to impress in League One. The O's need a striker who is not only a consistent goalscorer but is able to retain possession and bring others into the game. If Patulea can fulfil that role he will quickly become a favourite with the fans, but if he fails to deliver they will lose patience.
How will they do? "Williams believes that his side can upset the odds and launch a surprise challenge for promotion," says BBC London's Dave Victor. "But most of Orient's long-suffering supporters will not share the manager's confidence and will fear yet another long, hard fight for survival. One thing is for certain, chairman Barry Hearn will ensure that the club remains on a sound financial footing. Williams knows that he will have to make the most of one of the tightest budgets in the division, which is why a mid-table finish would be a real achievement."
How did they do last year? The Lions exceeded a number of expectations and came very close to going up in a pulsating play-off final against Scunthorpe United at Wembley, which included a spectacular Gary Alexander goal.
Who's the gaffer? Former Watford and Swansea boss Kenny Jackett is a quality coach who exudes calmness, but he makes sure his players are very fit. He has won respect wherever he has been and has stabilised Millwall. But, he has missed out on promotion from League One as a boss and assistant manager and wants to end that record.
Who's the player to watch? The spine will be the key - from keeper David Forde between the sticks through to Zak Whitbred and Paul Robinson in defence, Adam Bolder in midfield and a combination of strikers.
How will they do? "With the way League One looks, the Lions might be underrated and that would suit them, again I think they can be a surprise package," says BBC London's Phil Parry.
The Dons missed out in the play-offs, having looked a good bet for a second successive automatic promotion. Roberto Di Matteo made a good impression in his first season as manager but then decided to leave for West Brom. In truth, they exceeded expectations last season but would have been disappointed to fall at the final hurdle after finishing third in the league.
Who's the gaffer? Having left to take over at Blackburn last summer, Paul Ince returns for his second spell at the club and is keen to put the disappointment of his time at Ewood Park behind him.
Who's the player to watch? Striker Jermaine Easter scored a hatful of goals for Wycombe, but then failed to build on that at Plymouth. Ince has given him a chance to rebuild his career in League One.
How will they do? "Manager Ince admits it will be a harder division this season, but if they can sort out their home form they could challenge for the play-offs again," says BBC Three Counties' Simon Oxley.
How did they do last year? Relegation from the Championship means the Canaries will be playing outside the top two divisions in English football for the first time in 50 years. An over-reliance on loan signings was seen by many fans as one of the main reasons for relegation. Norwich were still in with a chance of saving themselves on the final day of the season but it quickly evaporated when they went 3-0 down to bottom club Charlton within half an hour.
Who's the gaffer? Ex-City stopper Bryan Gunn. He replaced Glenn Roeder when he was sacked in January 2009 but could not save the club from the drop. He was given the manager's job on a permanent basis during the summer and is a club legend, having played 477 games. He, along with assistant manager Ian Butterworth and coach Ian Crook ,were part of the famous Norwich team which beat Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup in 1993. A former Scotland international, he is well-known in the Norfolk area for his charity work and between finishing as player and becoming manager he has been sheriff of the city of Norwich.
Who's the player to watch? Relegation means a much-changed squad for Norwich City. Winger Wes Hoolahan is still with the club and they scored just one goal from open play in the final seven-and-a-half games of last season after he got injured. Of the new arrivals, much will be expected of ex-Preston winger Simon Whaley and striker Grant Holt, who was League Two's top scorer last season. Midfielder Tom Adeyemi looks like one for the future, the 17-year-old is yet to make his first-team debut but this could be his breakthrough season.
How will they do? "With so many new players it's difficult to predict," says BBC Radio Norfolk's Chris Goreham. "They should challenge for an immediate return to the Championship and anything less than a play-off challenge will be regarded as a failure by the club's 19,000 season ticket holders."
How did they do last year? Oldham underachieved. At one stage the Latics were challenging for promotion under John Sheridan but they fell away at the turn of the year. A host of loan signings included Dean Windass, whose performances, despite sterling efforts as a goalkeeper, slumped along with the team's displays after his stand-in stopper showing. Joe Royle came in as an intended quick-fix but a return to earlier season form never materialised.
Who's the gaffer? Previously with Doncaster and Darlington - clubs without 'stars' in their squads - Dave Penney instilled a sound work ethic at both northern sides to compensate for a supposed lack of quality.
Who's the player to watch? The stand-out player last term, Chris Taylor, is a year older meaning the young left-sided attacking midfielder should increase last season's goal tally of 11 - but how long the Latics can hold on to him remains to be seen.
How will they do? "Were Penny to repeat the performances completed at his previous clubs, the Latics will truly be in with a shout of promotion," saysBBC Radio Manchester's John Gilder. "But you have to say, had Lee Hughes stayed that shout could well have become a roar."
How did they do last year? Southampton had a nightmare, both on and off the pitch. Boardroom wrangling, a young inexperienced side, and plummeting attendances all conspired to result in relegation from the Championship.
Who's the gaffer? New to the job but not new to lower league football, former Reading, West Ham and Charlton boss Alan Pardew and his experience of gaining promotions through the leagues should prove invaluable.
Who's the player to watch? It has to be Kelvin Davis. The keeper won the side countless points last season with inspirational displays in goal, and turned down a move to the Premier League to stay and fight for promotion. Teenage striker Matt Paterson could impress in League One too.
How will they do? "With a new owner, new manager and new players, fans' expectations will be high, but starting on minus ten points will hinder any progress they may make," says BBC Radio Solent's Kris Temple.
How did they do last year? They finished eighth, which was a massive achievement by Steve Tilson as he managed a small squad with little or no money at his disposal. But for some inconsistency right at the end they could have made the play-offs but eighth was more than many fans dared to dream of.
Who's the gaffer? One of the country's longest-serving managers, Tilson is a Southend United legend as a player and has got an excellent reputation as a boss, overseeing two promotions, two Johnstone's Paint Trophy finals and a play-off semi-final. Other clubs have tried to tease him away but without success so far. A happy-go-lucky exterior covers a steely determination to succeed.
Who's the player to watch? The Blues look like they are going to have to make do with a small squad once again. But the return of Lee Sawyer on loan from Chelsea has given the fans hope. The midfielder was excellent in a loan spell last season and he will have to take a large workload on his shoulders to drive the side forward. Captain Adam Barrett will again lead from the front but the loss of Peter Clarke is a huge blow.
How will they do? "If Tilson can work his magic again then a top-half finish and play-off challenge could be mounted but more signings are needed," says BBC Essex's Glenn Speller.
How did they do last year? Stockport finished 18th in League One and a summer of turmoil for fans, including administration and a managerial exit, leaves last season all but a distant memory. Finishing in the bottom seven, just a point above the drop zone summed up the dire financial straits in which the Hatters ended.
Who's the gaffer? With three years of Jim Gannon-led stability over, we now enter the Gary Ablett era. As the former Liverpool reserve-team boss, the ex-Anfield full back is a brave, unproven choice who faces challenges aplenty at Edgeley Park. Then again, previous incumbents Gannon and Dave Jones were both untested when they took the helm - and the rest, as they say, is history. If the 44-year-old can repeat the trick of leading the Reds' second string to a league title within two years of taking the helm, the County faithful are in for more good times.
Who's the player to watch? Centre-half and captain, Wythenshawe-born Michael Raynes. The 21-year-old stopper, whose ability has interested several higher division clubs such as Liverpool and West Brom, was a pivotal figure protecting Wales Under-21 keeper Owain Fon Williams. These two will be central to County's hopes along with young striker Oli Johnson whose two goals in the end-of-season 4-3 win against Cheshire-neighbours Crewe made him a fans' favourite.
How will they do? "Undoubtedly, the faithful would be satisfied with a transitional, mid-table finish,"says BBC Radio Manchester's Brian Clarke. "Yet with the owners eyeing the possibility of a new home stadium within three years as a realistic and viable objective, the new manager may have loftier aspirations."
How did they do last year? Very poorly. Despite finishing 15th, Swindon's safety was only secured on the penultimate weekend of the season. Given the squad they had, they should have finished in the top half but their dismal defensive record ensured that did not happen. Without Simon Cox's 32 goals they would surely be in League Two, and he has now left to join West Bromwich Albion.
Who's the gaffer? Former Hartlepool boss Danny Wilson joined Swindon on Boxing Day and has had an instant impact on performances. Swindon will try to play football given half-a-chance, but do look better suited to cope with physical teams this season.
Who's the player to watch? Midfielder Jonathan Douglas could be the commanding player in the middle of the park Swindon have been looking for in recent seasons. Meanwhile fellow new signing Scott Cuthbert comes highly recommended from Scotland. But if Gordon Greer continues to play as he did on loan last season, he will be one of the best defenders in League One.
How will they do? "Swindon chairman Andrew Fitton would like the team to be "in and around" the play-off places at the end of the season and have at least one good cup run. That sounds about right to me," says BBC Wiltshire's Ed Hadwin.
How did they do last year? Tranmere's failure to replicate their strong home form on the road ultimately cost them a League One play-off place. However, given the relatively small size of their squad and modest financial resources, most fans thought reaching seventh place was an achievement in itself. Given the fact they came agonisingly close to sealing a play-off place at Scunthorpe on the last day of the season, with Iron going on to seal promotion, to say Ronnie Moore's departure as manager came as a shock to some is an understatement.
Who's the gaffer? Following the departure of Moore, chairman Peter Johnson was quick to act by bringing in Liverpool legend John Barnes. Barnes arrived at Prenton Park off the back of a successful spell coaching the Jamaican national team and nine years on from an unhappy spell at Celtic. He is joined in the dug-out by former Liverpool team-mate and Tranmere midfielder Jason McAteer.
Who's the player to watch? The new duo of Barnes and McAteer will be working with a smaller squad and under stricter financial constraints than Moore was last season. So far their recruitment programme has consisted of free transfers and loan signings. The re-signing of two former Tranmere favourites, Alan Mahon and Paul McLaren, shows the importance Barnes is placing on having 'quality' players at the club who will accept his ethos of playing attractive, quick passing, progressive and winning football.
How will they do? "After last season's near-miss on a top-six spot the fans will be expecting Rovers to mount a play-off challenge again," says BBC Radio Merseyside's Derek Jones. "There will be plenty of long journeys for Tranmere this season following the arrival of Exeter, Gillingham, Norwich and Southampton to League One with Rovers' first-team squad travelling more than 8,500 miles to away games this season. They will need to overcome last season's travel sickness and maintain their consistent home form if a top-six place is to become a reality."
How did they do last year? Before a ball was kicked last season a mid-table finish would have represented a decent season for Walsall - and that was exactly where they ended up. What, on the face of it, might seem a run-of-the-mill campaign was in fact anything but, with the Saddlers winning at Brighton with nine men and manager Jimmy Mullen being sacked on the afternoon his side's home game against Tranmere was postponed because of a frozen pitch. Saddlers fans had been unhappy with the style of football under Mullen, but the subsequent performances under Chris Hutchings and Martin O'Connor have raised expectations ahead of the new campaign.
Who's the gaffer? Manager Hutchings has the task of leading Walsall into the 2009/10 season after arriving at the Banks's Stadium in January. It is a major opportunity for Hutchings, whose spells in charge of Bradford and Wigan both ended in the sack within six months. The early signs have been encouraging though, and he may have pulled off a masterstroke in buying himself time by appointing Walsall legend O'Connor as his assistant.
Who's the player to watch? Walsall will be looking for a big full third season from homegrown striker Troy Deeney. The 21-year-old finally came of age following Hutchings' arrival, scoring 10 times during the second half of the campaign after previously netting only twice before Christmas. Hutchings will also be eager for Welsh under-21 midfielder Mark Bradley to stamp his authority on the side.
How will they do? "In a division boasting Leeds, Norwich, Southampton, Charlton and MK Dons this season it would be unrealistic to expect Walsall to mount a serious challenge for the automatic promotion and play-off spots," says BBC Sport's Steve Marshall. "Like previous Walsall managers, Chris Hutchings will be asked to make the proverbial silk purse from a sow's ear because his budget will be far more limited than many of his side's rivals. But Hutchings does have some talented youngsters at his disposal which, together with some wily old pros in the form of Clayton Ince and Steve Jones, should form a mix capable of ensuring the Saddlers another comfortable mid-table position."
How did they do last year? Wycombe were promoted from League Two, albeit on goal difference, on the last day, but supporters did not care how they did it. There was a wobble, but they overcame it, with a tight defence being the key.
Who's the gaffer? Ex-Leicester, Hull, Crystal Palace and Stevenage boss Peter Taylor knows all about promotion from the lower divisions, and after clear-the-air talks with owner Steve Hayes in the summer, he is looking forward to challenging again.
Who's the player to watch? Wycome have moved quickly to replace the highly-rated David McCracken with the experienced Michael Duberry. Taylor has also made Duberry captain so his input will be key.
How will they do? "Wycombe have had off-the-field distractions in the summer but now that Steve Hayes is in full charge he has pledged to invest in the team," says BBC Three Counties' Simon Oxley. "If they can move on from the ownership issues, they can take advantage of Taylor's almost unrivalled knowledge."
How did they do last season? Eventually finished 17th after spending the majority of the season battling at the bottom of table with the rest of the 'have-nots' in the division. Relegation was avoided on the penultimate weekend after a fine performance at Tranmere, a welcome relief after looking odds-on to go down just a couple of months prior.
Who's the gaffer? Currently the only player-manager in the Football League, Terry Skiverton, is a fine centre-back who will be looking to play as little as possible this season. At just 34, he's been very impressive so far in his short managerial career.
Who's the player to watch? Young left-back Nathan Smith has courted interest from some big clubs after bursting on to the scene from non-league Potters Bar. An attacking full back with blistering pace, he's due a big season.
How will they do? "A summer turnaround of personnel means the team will look totally different come the start of the season," says BBC Somerset's Pete Simson. "Avoiding relegation is always the priority."
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