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Leicester City 10/11 Opponents – Preview 3

In the Npower Championship preview three, I will be taking a closer a look at four more teams, these being Hull, Ipswich, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

Hull  – Nigel Pearson will take charge of Hull City this season after leaving Championship rivals Leicester. Pearson will have a very tough job on his hands, as a cash strapped Hull are unlikely to make any big money signings; however over the summer both James Harper and Nolberto Solano joined the club on free transfers. On the other hand first choice goalkeeper Boaz Myhill has decided to depart, aswell as important players such as Stephen Hunt and Stephen Mouyokolo. Out of the three relegated clubs Hull City could well struggle the most, with ageing players such as Nicky Barmby, Kevin Kilbane and Seyi Olofinjana in the squad tired legs could well be a crucial factor, but youngster Tom Cairney is an outstanding talent to keep an eye on. Overall though Hull City is a very decent outfit, however Nigel Pearson has a very tough job on his hands. Prediction – 8th

Ipswich – After last season’s mediocre effort, manager Roy Keane will be hoping for vast improvement in the 2010/2011 campaign, as most of last season’s star signings failed to make any real impact. Ipswich still remain with most of last season’s squad including high priced failures, Tamas Priskin and Carlos Edwards. On a positive note all eyes will be on the strike pairing of Connor Wickham and Jonathan Walters, between them they managed to conjure up 14 goals in season 09/10. So far this summer Roy Keane has been linked with many players, however only Mark Kennedy and Marton Fulop have signed on the dotted line. Overall Ipswich could well be looking at a mid-table finish again, as the club has failed to sell off last season’s negative performers. Prediction – 15th

McAuley goal

Leeds – After a three season absence from the Npower Championship, Leeds United have finally returned to the second tier of English football. Simon Grayson has been scraping the surface for some time with both Blackpool and now Leeds, the 40 year old has stated that his happy with his strengthening, even though the Yorkshire side were dealt a blow, as star striker Jermaine Beckford decided to join Premier League side Everton. This season could all be about stability at Elland Road, the club are progressing in the right direction as the squad is full of experienced players such as Patrick Kisnorbo and Richard Naylor, aswell as a brass of youngsters like Max Gradel and Jonny Howson. Leeds have brought well over the summer as Kasper Schmeichal is an outstanding buy, however everybody will be keeping close tabs on striker Billy Paynter, the former Swindon man had a fantastic League 1 season, but the question is how will he deal with the massive step up?. Overall Leeds are looking strong in all areas, but expect them to have a steady 2010/2011 campaign. Prediction – 11th

Middlesbrough – Gordon Strachan’s Middlesbrough side are most bookies favourites for the Championship title, after a season of upheaval struggle under the reigns of Gareth Southgate and a mediocre couple of months under the guidance of Strachan, the former Celtic boss has dug very deep into his spending pockets as he has snapped up a number of players over the past couple of months. The former Premier League side, isn’t short on depth and with a squad mixed with talented stars and up and coming youngsters, I can definitely see why Middlesbrough are most people’s favourites for promotion. New signings Kris Boyd and Nicky Bailey will add some spice to the ranks, while the two Williams’ Rhys and Luke are well equipped to set the league alight. Overall a top six finish looks highly likely and with a talented squad capable of promotion, I would advise football fans to stick their money on Middlesbrough this season. Prediction – 1st

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