R’s in the bat­tle for pro­mo­tion

Midweek Sport - - SPORTS -

and, while he still has the squad to chal­lenge, a poor start could see him axed

It’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story at Wat­ford, though, af­ter they came within 90 min­utes of mak­ing the top flight last sea­son.

A change in the rules meant the Hor­nets have been forced to al­ter their pol­icy of bulk loans from over­seas.

In­stead Gian­franco Zola’s squad has been bol­stered by 12 new per­ma­nent sign­ings – in­clud­ing eight from Udi­nese and Granada, the clubs also owned by the Pozzo fam­ily.

Leeds man­ager Brian McDer­mott is happy with his side’s billing as pro­mo­tion favourites as he looks to bring an end to their 10-year Pre­mier League ex­ile.

The El­land Road chief said: “We have to cope with high ex­pec­ta­tions.”

But it’s wor­ry­ing times for Mid­dles­brough fans.

The cash-strapped Teessiders have slashed £4m from their an­nual wage bill and brought just two play­ers in over the sum­mer – mid­field­ers Dean White­head and Jo Varga. There’s some more op­ti­mism at Barns­ley, who are ex­pect­ing big things from £250,000 Bay­ern Mu­nich cap­ture Dale Jen­nings, a Scouser who launched his ca­reer at Tran­mere.

Hud­der­s­field boss Mark Robins hopes to lose his “loan ar­ranger” tag af­ter se­cur­ing James Vaughan on a per­ma­nent deal.

The bor­rowed Nor­wich striker rode to Town’s res­cue last sea­son, fir­ing them to safety with 14 goals, and Robins will be hop­ing for more.


Dave Jones in­sists his Sh­effield Wed­nes­day troops are ready to hit the ground run­ning. The Owls boss said: “The play­ers have worked very hard in pre­sea­son and look sharp, fit and lean.”

Mean­while, Don­caster’s new Ir­ish in­vestors have splashed out on vet­eran keeper Shay Given in a bid to prove wrong the crit­ics who’ve tipped them for a swift re­turn to League One. Things have been un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally calm FEE £2m Free Free Free £700,000 Free £1m £1m £1m £1m at Black­burn af­ter last sea­son’s chaos.

But boss Gary Bowyer’s bid for As­ton Villa’s Barry Ban­nan has fallen through to leave them short of mid­field op­tions ahead of their opener with Derby on Sun­day.

It’s a prob­lem shared by Black­pool boss Paul Ince.

Derby and Not­ting­ham For­est both ex­pect to be in con­tention for the top six af­ter a strong trans­fer win­dow, while Mick McCarthy’s Ip­swich should also be in the mix af­ter bring­ing in Paul An­der­son and David McGoldrick.

Chris Pow­ell’s im­prov­ing Charlton should steer clear of trou­ble, along with new­com­ers Bournemouth.

But we’re pre­dict­ing a tough sea­son ahead for new Mill­wall boss Steve Lo­mas and Yeovil chief Gary John­son.

Os­car Gar­cia will try to pick up the pieces af­ter Gus Poyet’s rather messy de­par­ture from Brighton.

But, on the ev­i­dence of their pre-sea­son form, he has a lot to do to im­prove on last sea­son’s suc­cess in reach­ing the play-offs.

HIGH HOPES: Harry Red­knapp and Jer­maine Beck­ford GOAL MA­CHINE: Grant Holt is part

of a new-look Wi­gan front line

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