HUDDERSFIELD TOWN start their Championship campaign tomorrow night at Cardiff City knowing they face a challenging season.
Playing in the second tier of the English game for the first time in 11 years, manager Simon Grayson and his team face a string of Yorkshire and trans-Pennine derbies on top of testing trips to the south and midlands.
Here the local reporters on each of Town’s rivals give their verdict on how their club’s Championship chances are shaping up:
BARNSLEY – Doug O’Kane (Barnsley Chronicle): More wheeling and dealing in the transfer market for manager Keith Hill, but the Tykes are set for another tough season.
BIRMINGHAM CITY – Colin Tattum (Birmingham Mail): City played more games than anyone, 62, using the fewest players last season, due to the Europa League campaign and FA Cup run.
It caught up with them right at the end, in the play-offs, but if they show staying power under new boss Lee Clark a top six finish should be secured.
BLACKBURN ROVERS – Andy Cryer (Lancashire Telegraph): Rovers’ fortunes for the coming season are almost impossible to predict ahead of the big Championship kick off.
A couple of decent players have been signed, but so have some who are almost completely untried and untested.
BLACKPOOL – Steve Canavan (Blackpool Gazette): Promotion to the Premier League is the aim, and the club has never been in a better position to achieve it.
They have retained every player they wanted to – crucially keeping exciting young wingers Matt Phillips and Tom Ince – and strengthened the midfield.
BOLTON – Marc Iles (The Bolton News): Wanderers haven’t been shy about predicting an immediate return to the Premier League, and have locked down their saleable assets on long-term contracts to give themselves a chance.
They have lost a lot of experience and virtually halved the wage bill this summer, and yet they have lost only one first team regular in Nigel Reo-Coker.
BRIGHTON – Brian Owen (The Argus): With increased capacity, a record 22,000 season ticket holders and summer signings from top clubs, expectation is high around The Amex.
While not a new signing, keeping hold of star Spanish playmaker Vicente – and giving him almost a full pre-season – has also been a massive boost.
BRISTOL CITY – BBC Radio Bristol: Robins manager Derek McInnes is regarded as one of the most highly-rated managers in Britain and enjoyed instant success at Ashton Gate as he steered the Robins clear of relegation last season.
BURNLEY – Suzanne Geldard (Lancashire Telegraph): Burnley are in a better place than this time last year, and facing better prospects despite losing top scorer Jay Rodriguez.
The arrival of Shackell, Stock and Vokes has strengthened the spine.
There is reason to be optimistic about the season.
CARDIFF – Terry Phillips (Media Wales): Cardiff’s Malaysian investors have backed manager Malky Mackay.
City still need a defender to improve strength in depth at the back.
In terms of targets, it has to be top six minimum.
CHARLTON – Richard Cawley (South London Press): There continue to be rumblings that all is not quite right behind the scenes at Charlton and chief executive Stephen Kavanagh and director Peter Varney, who pulled together the takeover which saved the club from administration in 2010, have both made abrupt exits.
The uncertainty behind the scenes rules out challenging for promotion again.
CRYSTAL PALACE – Richard Cawley (South London Press): Palace have trimmed their wage bill with some high-profile outgoings and the fans have been frustrated at a lack of high-profile signings, but the Eagles do still have one of the most sought-after youngsters outside the Premier League in Wilfried Zaha.
It’s vital they get off to a good start or it could be another grind for safety.
DERBY COUNTY – Steve Nicholson (Derby Telegraph): Another top-half finish is realistic for Derby.
Last season’s 12th place was Derby’s highest finish in five years and their third best in the last 16 seasons, which highlights the club’s struggles.
This is a young, developing Derby team and manager Nigel Clough is doing a good job despite the tight finances.