Football Season Guide

Accrington Stanley

In


Joe Pritchard (mid) (Bolton), Zaine Francis-Angol (def) (Fylde), Colby Bishop (att) (Leamington)

Out


Scott Brown (sp) (mid) (Harrogate), Piero Mingoia (sp) (mid) (Borenham Wood), Ben Richards-Everton (sp) (def) (Bradford), Will Wood (def) (Dag&Red), Liam Nolan (sp) (mid) (released), Danny Williams (mid) (released), Janoi Donacien (r) (def) (Ipswich - loan ended), Paul Smyth (sp) (att) (QPR - loan ended), Dan Barlaser (r) (mid) (Newcastle - loan ended), Luke Armstrong (sp) (att) (Newcastle - loan ended), Liam Gibson (sp) (def) (Newcastle - loan ended)

Accrington Stanley won over many neutrals with their performances last season, having looked to play attacking football at every opportunity. Unfortunately for John Coleman and his men, it was an approach that only really worked well for them early in the season. They displayed play-off form in the opening two months of the season, but dropped off after that and were dragged into the battle against the drop. The points they accumulated early in the season were enough for them to stay up, but they now face a new campaign, with no point tally to use as a fallback. Stanley could probably do with some fresh blood due to their lack of momentum, but have signed only three players so far in Joe Pritchard, Zaine Francis-Angol and Colby Bishop, none of who are established League One players. On the other side, they have seen several players leave. Most of these men were rotation players, although Dan Barlaser, who returned to parent club Newcastle, played a rather large role last season. Stanley's starting eleven will not be particularly different than last time around, but they definitely have a far smaller squad and will probably need additional loans in order to deal with the hectic League One schedule. Given that they have not really strengthened and that they have been poor in the last six-plus months, they will certainly be seen as one of the main candidates to go down.

Target


Stanley did well to stay up last season and will be pleased if they manage to beat the drop again.

AFC Wimbledon

In


Nesta Guinness-Walker (def) (Met Police), Luke O'Neill (def) (Gillingham), Adam Roscrow (att) (Cardiff Metro), Michael Folivi (att) (Watford - loan), Nathan Trott (gk) (West Ham - loan)

Out


James Hanson (sp) (att) (Grimsby), Toby Sibbick (sp) (def) (Barnsley), Tom Soares (sp) (mid) (released), Andy Barcham (sp) (mid) (released), Alfie Egan (sp) (mid) (released), Deji Oshilaja (sp) (def) (released), Joe McDonnell (sp) (gk) (released)

Wimbledon flirted with relegation in the majority of the previous campaign, with their early results being so poor that they opted to part ways with long-serving manager Neal Ardley. They brought in another man with ties to the club in Wally Downes, who eventually managed to guide them to safety and will now be hoping to kick on and establish the Dons as a solid League One club. The list of players to have departed is hardly surprising, given that most of them, such as James Hanson, Tom Soares and Andy Barcham, are players who lost their regular starting places under Downes, while former skipper Deji Oshilaja departs after spending nearly the entire previous season on the sidelines due to recurring injury issues. The Dons have therefore lost no regular players over the summer but, given their financial limitations, it is hardly a surprise that they have brought in only a handful of players. Luke O'Neill and Michael Folivi are both players with League One experience, while Nesta Guinness-Walker, Adam Roscrow and Nathan Trott all represent stabs in the dark at this level. The Dons' main weakness last season was a lack of goals and they have not really brought in a player that looks capable of helping them with that. However, they have a decent set of strikers on the books and might improve in that regard if their forward line finds its form. While well-organized and with a pleasant atmosphere surrounding them, the Dons have simply not strengthened enough to be able to not fear relegation.

Target


They narrowly managed to avoid the drop last time around. Achieving safety again would be seen as mission accomplished.

Blackpool

In


Simon Grayson (manager), Ryan Edwards (def) (Plymouth), Ben Tollitt (mid) (Tranmere), Sullay Kaikai (mid) (NAC Breda), Adi Yussuf (att) (Solihull Moors), Jamie Devitt (mid) (Carlisle)

Out


Terry McPhillips (manager), Chris Long (sp) (att) (Motherwell), Max Clayton (sp) (att) (released), Chris Taylor (sp) (mid) (released), Donervon Daniels (sp) (def) (released), Ben Heneghan (r) (def) (Sheffield United - loan ended), Joe Dodoo (sp) (att) (Rangers - loan ended), Nya Kirby (sp) (mid) (Crystal Palace - loan ended), Antony Evans (sp) (mid) (Everton - loan ended)

Blackpool have had a turbulent 2018/19 season mostly off the pitch, as the war between the club owners and the fans culminated in the Tangarines finally changing owners. On the field, the Tangarines performed above expectations and remained in the play-off race until very late in the season. Terry McPhillips received a lot of praise for the work he did after taking over early in the campaign. However, this summer saw McPhillips follow the steps of his predecessor Gary Bowyer by deciding to leave his post as the manager of Blackpool. It was a move that came out of the blue, but the board quickly acted and opted for experience by bringing in Simon Grayson. The Tangarines had a bloated squad last time around and the players who left mostly featured sporadically, with defender Ben Heneghan, back to parent club Sheffield United, the sole exception. The list of arrivals looks extremely promising. Sullay Kaikai, back from a spell at Holland, is a proven menace at League One level, Ryan Edwards is an established defender in this division, while Ben Tollitt and Jamie Devitt may come from League Two, but both starred for their now-ex clubs last season. The Tangarines therefore certainly look stronger than last season, but there are obviously question marks over whether they overperformed last time around with what was a rather limited squad.

Target


Blackpool will be pleased with a midtable finish, as long as they show continuous improvement.

Bolton Wanderers

In


none

Out


Mark Beevers (r) (def) (Peterborough), Clayton Donaldson (sp) (att) (Bradford), Sammy Ameobi (sp) (att) (Nottingham Forest), Mark Little (sp) (def) (Bristol Rovers), Pawel Otkowski (r) (def) (Gazisehir), Josh Vela (r) (mid) (Hibernian), Joe Pritchard (sp) (mid) (Accrington), Craig Noone (r) (mid) (Melbourne)

Bolton endured a torrid time in the Championship during the previous campaign, with their poor showings on the pitch overshadowed by their highly-publicized abysmal financial situation. Their players went on strikes on two occasions due to unpaid wages, while the club went into administration in May due to unpaid tax bills. As a consequence, they were docked twelve points by the FA and will start the upcoming campaign with this deficit. With the players not being paid in weeks and the majority of them being on one-year contract, there is little surprise that the Trotters saw an exodus of players over the course of the summer. As few as 16 players were still at the club at the time of the writing of this guide and more are reportedly looking to leave. Bolton's situation is such that the main concern of their fans at the moment is the off-field side of things, as the club are battling for survival and are reportedly close to a takeover. It remains to be seen what will happen once a takeover is completed. Of course, the new owners will have to find the funds to pay the players the money that they are due, while bringing in new players might be a step to far. At the moment, it is difficult to even guess what kind of a squad the Trotters will have in a month's time, but it is pretty clear that a second consecutive relegation seems inevitable.

Target


Their genuine target for the season will be to find a way to become a functioning club again. Their chances of staying up are difficult to judge and largely depend on what happens after their takeover.

Bristol Rovers

In


Kyle Bennett (Swindon - loan ended), Sam Matthews (mid) (Eastleigh - loan ended), Bernard Mensah (mid) (Aldershot - loan ended), Tyler Smith (att) (Sheffield United - loan), Josh Hare (def) (Eastleigh), Luke Leahy (def) (Walsall), Mark Little (def) (Bolton), Anssi Jaakkola (gk) (Reading), Tom Davies (def) (Coventry), Jordi van Stappershoef (gk) (Volendam)

Out


Alex Jakubiak (sp) (att) (Watford - loan ended), Jack Bonham (r) (gk) (Brentford - loan ended), Daniel Leadbitter (sp) (def) (Newport), Tom Lockyer (k) (def) (Charlton), Stuart Sinclair (sp) (mid) (Walsall), Adam Smith (sp) (gk) (Forest Green), Joe Partington (def) (Eastleigh), Chris Lines (r) (mid) (Northampton), James Clarke (sp) (def) (Walsall), Sam Slocombe (sp) (gk) (released)

Bristol Rovers had an up and down 2018/19 season. They initially struggled badly, which caused them to part ways with long-serving boss Darrell Clarke, but Graham Coughlan excelled after taking over and eventually guided them to safety. Coughlan spoke several times about how he was delighted to finally get a chance to manage on his own. He managed to motivate and organize his men last time around but now faces a new test, as he will be managing what is very much his own squad. The Gas have had a bit of a clearout during the summer, but have kept the majority of their truly important players, with the sole exception being Tom Lockyer, with the Welsh international being snapped up by Charlton. However, a number of interesting signings have been made. Bristol Rovers have two new full-backs in Luke Leahy and Mark Little, both proven at this level, while Tom Davies, who signs from Coventry, will complete a new-look back four. Interestingly enough, they have also released two and signed two keepers, so they will enter the season with a completely new back five. While Coughlan has mostly reorganized defence, his side's main undoing last season was their lack of goals at home. Tyler Smith signs on loan from Sheffield United and will try to help the Gas in this regard, but one cannot help but shake off the impression that they never really addressed Ellis Harrison's move to Ipswich a year ago. They will be hoping to maintain their decent form under Coughlan, but a lot will depend on whether they will now manage to find the goals they need.

Target


The Gas will want to keep improving and finish inside the midtable places.

Burton

In


Richard Nartey (def) (Chelsea - loan), Kieran O'Hara (gk) (Manchester United - loan), Marvin Sordell (att) (Northampton -loan ended), John O'Toole (mid) (Northampton), Jevan Anderson (def) (Formartine)

Out


Josh Clarke (def) (Sheffield United - loan ended), Brad Collins (r) (gk) (Chelsea - loan ended), Alex Bradley (sp) (mid) (WBA - loan ended), Kyle McFadzean (r) (def) (Coventry), Marcus Harness (r) (mid/att) (Portsmouth), Jamie Allen (r) (mid) (Coventry), Damien McCrory (sp) (def) (released), Will Miller (sp) (mid) (released), Harry Campbell (gk) (released), Chris Beardsley (att) (retired)

Burton entered the previous season hoping to move straight back into the Championship, but rarely looked like achieving that goal. It was clear from their pre-season activity that they were going to struggle, given that they let several players leave without replacing them, leaving Nigel Clough with a rather small squad to work with. This is a weakness that was exposed by the numerous injuries they had over the course of the season. The Brewers seem to be making the exact same mistake going into the new season. They have not lost any standout performers during the summer, but a mere body count reveals that they have lost more players than they have brought in. However, things could very well change in that regard between now and start of the season, as several players have been linked with moves away, but the Brewers are also looking for new players. Despite these potential changes, it has looked for a while that the club likes ambition and/or resources to try and push for a return to the Championship, which is where they were until last summer. Even if they do not expand their squad, they will still be well equipped to push for a top six finish, provided that they stay injury-free. Obviously, this is a rather big "if".

Target


Burton will be hoping for a play-off place, but Nigel Clough will not be under any pressure as long as the Brewers look like finishing inside the top half.

Bury

In


Paul Wilkinson (manager), Harry Bunn (att) (Southend - back from loan), Joe Skarz (def) (Halifax - back from loan)

Out


Ryan Lowe (manager) (Plymouth), Jordan Rossiter (r) (mid) (Rangers - loan ended), Caolan Lavery (sp) (att) (Sheffield United - loan ended), Scott Wharton (r) (def) (Blackburn - loan ended), Danny Mayor (k) (mid) (Plymouth), Will Aimson (sp) (def) (Plymouth), Callum McFadzean (r) (def) (Plymouth), Scott Burgess (sp) (mid) (Port Vale), Jay O'Shea (sp) (mid) (Brisbane), Nicky Maynard (r) (att) (Mansfield), Chris Stokes (sp) (def) (Stevenage), Joe Murphy (r) (gk) (Shrewsbury), Nicky Adams (r) (mid) (Northampton), Dominic Telford (sp) (att) (Plymouth), Ryan Cooney (sp) (def) (Burnley)

Bury did well to win back promotion to League One at the first time of asking, but the Shakers' elation with their return to League One soon proved to despair due to off-field matters. The club has been charged over unpaid taxes and only narrowly managed to avoid liquidation. As a consequence, they have been docked twelve points and face a big uphill battle going into the new season. Unsurprisingly, given the financial situation, the Shakers have been unable to sign any new players, while losing numerous regulars, including the likes of Danny Mayor, Joe Murphy, Nicky Maynard and Nicky Adams. Manager Ryan Lowe has left to take over at Plymouth, whose previous experience consists only of assistant and caretaker manager jobs, takes over as their new boss. The Shakers had a squad of only 15 players at the moment of writing of this guide. While there is still a possibility that they will bring in players on loan, there is little doubt that they face a truly uphill battle in the new season.

Target


Staying up with their current squad would be seen as a huge achievement even without their point deduction. With it, it would be a minor miracle.

Coventry City

In


Reise Allassani (att) (Woking - back from loan), Ben Wilson (gk) (Bradford), Josh Pask (def) (West Ham U23), Daniel Bartlett (mid) (Southampton U18), Kyle McFadzean (def) (Burton), Fankaty Dabo (def) (Chelsea U23), Michael Rose (def) (Ayr), Marko Marosi (gk) (Doncaster), Wesley Jobello (mid) (Ajaccio), Jamie Allen (mid) (Burton), Gervane Kastaneer (mid) (NAC Breda)

Out


Jordan Ponticelli (sp) (att) (Tranmere - loan), Jordan Thompson (def) (Boreham Wood), David Meyler (sp) (mid) (Reading - loan ended), Bright Enobakhare (r) (att) (Wolves - loan ended), Dujon Sterling (r) (def) (Chelsea - loan ended), Luke Thomas (r) (mid) (Derby - loan ended), Lee Burge (r) (gk) (Sunderland), Tony Andreu (sp) (mid) (St.Mirren), Tom Davies (r) (def) (Bristol Rovers), Jordan Willis (k) (def) (Sunderland), Conor Chaplin (r) (att) (Barnsley), Jack Grimmer (sp) (def) (released), Liam O'Brien (gk) (released)

Coventry were among the most erratic sides in League One last season. They flirted with a play-off push at times, but never managed to put together a sustained run of good form that would really put them in top six contention. Given that it was their season of return to the third tier, their fans will be pleased with what was achieved. Mark Robins got them to play an attacking-minded brand of football, so their games were rarely short of excitement. The main story surrounding the club near the end of the previous season was uncertainty over whether the Sky Blues will get to play their games at Ricoh Arena next time around. Their board was unable to reach an agreement with the stadium owners and it has since been announced that they will play their home games at Birmingham's St.Andrew's stadium last season. This is a situation that Coventry are not unfamiliar with, having hosted games at Northampton's Sixfields Stadium a few years back. When it comes to the squad situation, several ins and outs were recorded. Most notably, Coventry have lost keeper Lee Burge, defenders Jordan Willis and Tom Davies, as well as striker Conor Chaplin. However, they have brought in a number of signings, most of who have League One experience; with Kyle McFadzean in particular being an experienced defender who will be expected to fill Willis's shoes. When ti comes to the quality of their squad and manager, the Sky Blues should easily finish inside the midtable places, but the stadium situation is difficult and it remains to be seen how they will cope with.

Target


The Sky Blues will be looking to stay well clear of danger and finish inside the midtable places.

Doncaster Rovers

In


Darren Moore (manager), Ben Sheaf (mid) (Arsenal - loan), Alex Kiwomya (att) (Chesterfield - loan ended), Danny Amos (def) (Hartlepool - loan ended), Brad Halliday (def) (Cambridge), Madger Gomes (mid) (Alaves), Reece James (def) (Sunderland)

Out


Grant McCann (manager) (Hull), Paul Downing (r) (def) (Blackburn - loan ended), Tyler Smith (sp) (att) (Sheffield United - loan ended), Mallis Wilks (r)(mid) (Leeds - loan ended), Herbie Kane (r) (mid) (Liverpool - loan ended), Aaron Lewis (sp) (def) (Swansea - loan ended), Andy Butler (r) (def) (Scunthorpe), Danny Andrew (r) (def) (Fleetwood), Marko Marosi (r) (gk) (Coventry), Tommy Rowe (r) (mid) (Bristol City), Alfie Beestin (sp) (att) (released), Luke McCullogh (sp) (mid) (released)

Doncaster had an excellent campaign last time around; having managed to make the play-offs, only to end up losing on penalties to eventual winners Charlton. It was a refreshing change for the Rovers following several years of midtable mediocrity and a relegation to League Two, but their success did not go unnoticed, as their manager Grant McCann was tempted away by Hull during the summer. Moreover, several important players have also left. Mallik Wilks and Herbie Kane both played key roles but are now back with their parent clubs, while the likes of Paul Downing, Andy Butler, Danny Andrew and Tommy Rowe are all also among those who have left. McCann's replacement is Darren Moore, who has it all to prove after not lasting long at WBA last season in what was his first managerial job. Moore is yet to really stamp his mark on the side, as only three players have signed so far in Brad Halliday, Madger Gomes and Reece James. The current state of Doncaster's squad leaves a lot to be desired, especially in terms of numbers. However, chances that they will not sign any players over the coming weeks are close to zero. According to Moore, he knows the player he wants and expects his men to be well-equipped for the new season.

Target


Ideally, they will want to repeat last season's finish and make the play-offs; but a top ten finish would be seen as a decent enough achievement.

Fleetwood

In


Kyle Dempsey (mid) (Peterborough - back from loan), Gethin Jones (def) (Mansfield - back from loan), Jack Sowerby (mid) (Carlisle - back from loan), Harvey Saunders (att) (Darlington - back from loan), Jordan Rossiter (mid) (Rangers - loan), Harry Souttar (def) (Stoke - loan), Danny Andrew (def) (Doncaster), Josh Morris (mid) (Scunthorpe), Paul Coutts (mid) (Sheffield United)

Out


Ched Evans (r) (att) (Sheffield United - loan ended), Jason Holt (r) (mid) (Rangers - loan ended), James Husband (r) (def) (Norwich - loan ended), Ashley Nadesan (sp) (att) (Crawley), James Wallace (sp) (mid) (released), Paul Jones (sp) (gk) (released), Ryan Taylor (sp )(def) (released)

Fleetwood have had a rather up-and-down 2018/19 campaign. They had spells during which they displayed play-off and relegation form and duly finished inside the midtable places at the end. While they have displayed no major progress in terms of results under Joey Barton, the Cod Army were pleased to at least have adopted a more attacking style of play than was the case a year earlier. Barton himself looked like did not have a clear idea on what he wanted to do in the first half of the season, having frequently changed lineups and tactics, but his approach became clearer in the second half of the campaign, both tactically and in terms of team selection. Fleetwood did manage to keep hold of the majority of their regulars, although a few important players did leave following the ends of their loan deals. Ched Evans, Jason Holt and James Husband all returned to their parent clubs and no suggestions that any of them could return have been given. The Cod Army have brought in proven League One quality in Paul Coutts, Danny Andrew and Harry Souttar. Josh Morris is, without question, the most promising signing they have made. The winger saw his stock drop a bit following a campaign in which he had injury problems, but is one of the best wingers in the division when in form and will have plenty to prove. While losing Evans in particular is a blow, Fleetwood do seem a touch stronger than last season, while an additional boost for them is the fact that Barton is now well acquainted with the squad and seems to have come to grips with being a manager.

Target


Eleventh-placed last season, they will want to show signs of progress. This means a top ten finish at a minimum with hopes for a play-off push.

Gillingham

In


Steve Evans (manager), Mikael Ndjoli (mid) (Bournemouth - loan), Nathan Thomas (mid) (Sheffield United - loan), Alfie Jones (def) (Southampton - loan), Ousseynou Cisse (mid) (MK Dons), Matty Willock (mid) (Manchester United U23), Jack Bonham (gk) (Brentford), Lee Hodson (def) (Rangers), Stuart O'Keefe (mid) (Cardiff)

Out


Leo Da Silva Lopes (r) (mid) (Wigan - loan ended), Billy King (sp) (mid) (Dundee - loan ended), Tahvon Campbell (sp) (att) (Forest Green - loan ended), Luke O'Neill (r) (def) (Wimbledon), Tomas Holy (r) (gk) (Ipswich), Dean Parrett (r) (mid) (Stevenage), Tom Eaves (k) (Hull), Billy Bingham (r) (mid) (Bromley), Tom Hadler (gk) (released), Alex Lacey (r) (def) (released)

Gillingham finished the previous season as 13th, but their finishing position hides what their campaign was like, as they spent the wast majority of the season battling against the drop. The board opted to part ways with Steve Lovell right after their survival was mathematically secured, with the experienced Steve Evans being named his successor in late May. Evans will enter the new position with the desire to bounce back following a disappointing last year's spell at Peterborough, which saw the Posh start the campaign well enough, but decline over time, causing him to lose his job. Two key players have left in top scorer Tom Eaves, who had a superb campaign, and keeper Tomas Holy, whose fantastic form earned him a move to Ipswich. Gillingham's results were often better than their displays, with Holy's goalkeeping and Evans's finishing often being the reason for that. While a rather competent replacement for Holy was signed in Jack Bonham, the Gills are yet to bring in an out-and-out striker to replace Eaves, but will certainly be unable to bring in a proven 20-goal-a-season man and can only hope to strike gold. Their playing squad certainly seems weaker than it was last season, but the board will look towards Evans and hope for their experienced boss to turn them into a side capable of displaying steel and staying up.

Target


The Gills are in a circle of teams who would do well to survive in the division.

Ipswich Town

In


Luke Garbutt (def) (Everton - loan), Janoi Donacien (def) (Accrington Stanley - back from loan), Danny Rowe (mid) (Lincoln - back from loan), Jordan Roberts (mid) (Lincoln - back from loan), Aaron Drinan (att) (Waterford - back from loan), Luke Woolfenden (def) (Swindon - back from loan), Tomas Holy (gk) (Gillingham), James Norwood (att) (Tranmere)

Out


Jonas Knudsen (r) (def) (Malmo), Dean Gerken (sp) (gk) (Colchester), Ellis Harrison (sp) (att) (Portsmouth), Jordan Spence (r) (def) (released), Tom Adeyemi (sp) (mid) (released), James Collins (def) (released), Grant Ward (r) (mid) (released), Simon Dawkins (mid) (released), Qollin Quaner (sp) (att) (Huddersfield - back from loan), Will Keane (r) (att) (Hull - loan ended), James Bree (r) (def) (Aston Villa - loan ended), Matthew Pennington (r) (def) (Everton - loan ended), Callum Elder (def) (Leicester - loan ended), Trevor Chalobah (r) (def) (Chelsea - loan ended)

The summer of 2018 saw Ipswich attempt a dangerous experiment following the departure of Mick McCarthy, as they appointed Paul Hurst and allowed him to undergo a squad clear-out that saw their side remain littered with League One players. The signings failed to make the step up and Hurst's reign was a short one, with the Tractor Boys suffering their first relegation to the third tier in more than sixty years. As is usually the case with sides relegated from the Championship after a lengthy stay there, the Tractor Boys have lost a lot of players over the summer, with the experienced manager Paul Lambert, who took over during the previous campaign, being trusted to restructure the squad and equip Ipswich to battle for promotion. Despite losing so many players during the summer, Ipswich still have a rather large squad and several players signed under Hurst remain at the club and will have a chance to again shine in the division where they made their names. Two more proven League One players were signed in Tomas Holy and Luke Garbutt, while James Norwood signs from Tranmere after enjoying a sensational campaign with the Rovers last time around. All in all, the Tractor Boys have done some decent damage reduction following their relegation. They have kept a lot of players who can prove useful at this level and will be expected to deliver promotion at the first time of asking. Apart from being expected to get out of the league, Lambert will know that he has to deal with the added pressure of Ipswich being rightly perceived as being too big a club to be in this division.

Target


Anything other than promotion will be seen as a failure.

Lincoln City

In


Joe Morrell (mid) (Bristol City - loan), Jack Payne (mid) (Huddersfield), Jorge Grant (mid) (Nottingham Forest), Jack Brown (mid) (free)

Out


Mark O'Hara (r) (mid) (Peterborough - loan ended), Shay McCartan (sp) (att) (Bradford - loan ended), James Brown (def) (Millwall - loan ended), Lee Angol (att) (Shrewsbury - loan ended), Danny Rowe (r) (mid) (Ipswich - loan ended), Jordan Roberts (sp) (mid) (Ipswich - loan ended)

Lincoln had an impressive League Two campaign last time around and won the division to achieve promotion to the third tier. Their rise through the leagues has been impressive, as they were playing non-league football as recently as two years ago, while this will be their first season in the third tier in twenty years. However, they look well-equipped to battle in the third tier. Apart from Mark O'Hara and Danny Rowe, who returned to their parent clubs, no players of any real note have left. The Imps' players are unlikely to struggle to adapt to the third tier, given that the majority of their first team players have League One experience. Only three signings were made. Jack Brown is one for the future, Joe Morrell signs on loan from Bristol City, while Jack Payne, joining from Huddersfield, is an experienced creative attacking midfielder who will be expected to become a mainstay in their side. The Imps are full of optimism going into the new season and will look at the likes of Luton, who completed back-to-back promotions last season, and hope to repeat their feat. However, given how long they were missing from the third tier, their first goal has to be to establish themselves as a solid League One club.

Target


They will be hoping for a top half finish, with outside hopes of a play-off push.

Milton Keynes Dons

In


Oran Jackson (def) (Brackley - back from loan), Liam Sole (mid) (St.Albans - loan ended), Brennan Dickenson (mid) (Colchester), Regan Poole (def) (Manchester United U23), Hiram Boateng (mid) (Exeter), Jordan Bowery (att) (Crewer), Rhys Healey (att) (Cardiff), Joe Mason (att) (free)

Out


David Wheeler (r) (mid) (QPR - loan ended), Jake Hesketh (r) (mid) (Brentford - loan ended), Stephen Walker (sp) (mid) (Middlesbrough - loan ended), Ryan Watson (sp) (mid) (Northampton), Mitch Hancox (sp) (def) (Solihull Moors), Chuks Aneke (r) (att) (Charlton), Ousseynou Cisse (sp) (mid) (Gillingham), Mathieu Baudry (sp) (def) (Swindon)

The 2017/18 season was a disastrous one for MK Dons, as they were hoping to push for a return to the Championship, but ended up relegated. They underwent a huge makeover during the summer and Paul Tisdale managed to deliver what he was appointed to deliver, as the Dons returned to the third tier at the first time of asking and did so despite facing a tough injury situation during the majority of the season. The Dons once again recorded several ins and outs over the summer. The main blow is the departure of Chuks Aneke, who was tempted away by Charlton, while Dave Wheeler and Jake Hesketh have both also left, having returned to their parent clubs. However, several interesting signings were made and the fans will be delighted to see the Dons complete the capture of Rhys Healey, who signs from Cardiff after impressing while on loan with the Dons in the first half of the previous campaign. Their squad seems a touch stronger than it was last time around and, according to a recent interview, Tisdale feels that his side is now complete and that he has all that he needs to compete in the third tier.

Target


The Dons will be hoping for a top six finish, but a midtable finish seems more realistic with their current squad.

Oxford United

In


Tony McMahon (def) (Scunthorpe - back from loan), Alex Gorrin (mid) (Motherwell), Kevin Berkoe (def) (Wolves U18), Sam Allardyce (def) (Bury U18), Tariqe Fosu (mid/att) (Charlton)

Out


Jerome Sinclair (sp) (att) (Watford - back from loan), Luke Garbutt (sp) (def) (Everton - back from loan), Ahmed Kashi (r) (mid) (Troyes - back from loan), Jordan Graham (sp) (mid) (Wolves - back from loan), Samir Carruthers (sp) (mid) (Sheffield United - back from loan), Marcus Browne (r) (mid) (West Ham - back from loan), Charlie Raglan (sp) (def) (Cheltenham), Curtis Nelson (r) (def) (Cardiff), Scott Shearer (sp) (gk) (released), Jonathan Obika (sp) (att) (released), Harvey Bradbury (att) (released), Jonte Smith (att) (released)

Oxford started the previous campaign in a rather disappointing manner and battled against the drop for more than a half of the campaign. It always looked like there was a rather good team in the U's, but they were repeatedly showing signs of being naive, which proved costly particularly on their travels, as they only recorded their first away victory in late February. They ended the season in superb form, but their revival came too late for them to push for a play-off place, which was their original goal going into the campaign. With Robinson seemingly finally finding the winning formula, the U's entered the summer with plenty of optimism, but have been frustrated in the summer transfer market so far. Curtis Nelson has joined Cardiff, while Marcus Browne is back at West Ham, with Oxford reportedly set to fail in their bid to sign the player on a permanent deal. The signings made so far include two youngsters in Kevin Berkoe and Sam Allardyce, a midfielder with no previous League One experience in Alex Gorris and Tariqe Fosu, a player that Robinson is well acquainted with, having managed him at Charlton before. While the U's have lost only two truly important players, they currently look a touch weaker than they were last season, as they never had the biggest of squads, and saw it additionally shrink over the summer. However, the club reportedly do have money available to bring in players and will likely bring in several new faces over the upcoming weeks.

Target


Their goal will be to finish inside the top six and they might just have a chance if they make decent signings in the coming days.

Peterborough United

In


Mark O'Hara (mid) (Lincoln - back from loan), Idris Kanu (att) (Port Vale - back from loan), Frankie Kent (def) (Colchester), Dan Butler (def) (Newport), Christy Pym (gk) (Exeter), Mark Beevers (def) (Bolton), George Boyd (mid) (Sheffield Wednesday), Frazer Blake-Tracy (def) (King's Lynn Tow), Mo Eisa (att) (Bristol City), Serhat Tasdemir (mid) (Fylde), Niall Mason (def) (free)

Out


Lee Tomlin (r) (att) (Cardiff - loan ended), Danny Lafferty (r) (def) (Sheffield United - loan ended), Kyle Dempsey (sp) (mid) (Fleetwood - loan ended), Tyler Denton (sp) (def) (Leeds - loan ended), Ben White (sp) (def) (Brighton - loan ended), Josh Knight (sp) (def) (Leicester - loan ended), Ryan Tafazolli (r) (def) (Hull), Mark Tyler (sp) (gk) (retired), Darren Lyon (mid) (released), Lewis Freestone (def) (released)

It was more of the usual for Peterborough last time around, as the Posh started the season like a runaway train, but slowed down over time and ended up missing on a play-off place. They once again had a managerial change midway through a campaign, but the board decided to take a different route this time, and offered Darren Ferguson a three-year contract; with the goal set for him to establish the Posh as a Championship club. This is his third spell at Peterborough - he managed to win promotions to the second tier in each of the previous two; but the Posh always end up back in League One and he will now try to break that cycle. Obviously, the Posh have to get into the second tier to think about how to stay there and it is hardly a surprise that they have undergone a summer clear-out, with Ferguson making the squad his own. Several loan players are back with their parent clubs, but the sole truly important man to have left is Ryan Tafazolli, who joins former manager Grant McCann at Hull. As usual, the Posh have made punts on several players from lower leagues - this is something that they are historically excellent at and one of the new arrivals could well prove to be their next multi-million pound transfer. However, they have also brought in proven League One quality in Mark Beevers and Frankie Kent, as well as George Boyd, who spent six years at the club and returns to the Posh after six seasons with Championship sides. Ferguson has been given free reign to make the squad his own and, given his track record, it is difficult to dismiss Peterborough as promotion contenders.

Target


The Posh enter the season with achieving promotion their only goal. They look well-equipped to compete, but competition will be stiff.

Portsmouth

In


Ross McCrorie (mid) (Rangers - loan), Sean Raggett (def) (Norwich - loan), Paul Downing (def) (Blackburn), Ryan Williams (mid) (Rotherham), James Bolton (def) (Shrewsbury), Marcus Harness (mid) (Burton), Ellis Harrison (att) (Ipswich)

Out


Adam May (sp) (mid) (Swindon - loan), Omar Bogle (sp) (att) (Cardiff - loan ended), James Vaughan (sp) (att) (Wigan - loan ended), Lloyd Isgrove (sp) (mid) (Barnsley - loan ended), Viv Solomon-Otabor (sp) (mid) (Birmingham - loan ended), Matt Clarke (k) (def) (Brighton), Dion Donohue (sp) (def) (Mansfield), Nathan Thompson (sp) (def) (released)

Portsmouth are coming from a very frustrating campaign which saw them narrowly miss out on direct promotion before losing their play-off final against Sunderland with an aggregate score of 1:0. While sections of fans called for Kenny Jackett's head during a particularly poor run of form midway through the season that eventually cost them direct promotion, the board acknowledged the fact that Pompey have been showing progress every season under Jackett and therefore opted against making a managerial change. Portsmouth have let a lot of fringe players leave during the summer transfer window, with a big exception to this being Matt Clarke, their last season's Player of the Year, who has joined Brighton. The experienced Paul Downing signs from Blackburn as a replacement, while several other players proven at this level have signed in Ryan Williams, James Bolton, Marcus Harness and Ellis Harrison. Ross McCrorie and Sean Raggett, who sign on loan, are unknowns at League One level, but are both expected to feature heavily. Despite losing the outstanding Clarke, Pompey look stronger than they were last time around. They have more potential starters now all over the pitch and this is particularly important in the attacking areas, as the arrivals of Harness and Ellis Harrison will give Jackett more options in positions when he chose between only three players during the majority of the previous campaign. Portsmouth as a club have been steadily improving over the best part of the current decade and now look well equipped to push for promotion.

Target


After narrowly missing out on a play-off place a couple of years ago and narrowly missing out on direct promotion last season, they will want to keep improving and reach the Championship.

Rochdale

In


Rhys Norrington-Davies (def) (Sheffield United - loan), Robert Sanchez (gk) (Brighton - loan), Rekeil Pyke (att) (Huddersfield - loan)

Out


Zach Clough (sp) (att) (Nottingham Forest - loan ended), Ethan Ebanks-Landell (r) (def) (Wolves - loan ended), Joe Bunney (sp) (def) (Northampton - loan ended), Rory Holden (sp) (att) (Bristol City - loan ended), Ethan Hamilton (r) (mid) (Manchester United), Daniel Adshead (sp) (mid) (Norwich), Jordan Williams (sp) (mid) (Fylde), Brad Inman (sp) (mid) (Brisbane), Kgosi Ntlhe (sp) (def) (Scunthorpe)

After famously escaping the drop of the last day of the 2017/18 season, the Dale were hoping to do better in the next campaign and stay clear of danger. It was a hope that did not materialize, as they badly struggled for large spells, with the board eventually opting to part ways with long-serving manager Keith Hill. It was a decision that worked, as caretaker Brian Barry-Murphy managed to guide them to safety and was eventually given the job on a permanent basis. While doing well to keep Dale in the division, Barry-Murphy now faces a completely different task. He will now not have the "new manager bounce" to work in his favour and will have to find a way to aid the battle for survival of a side that has one of the smallest budgets in the division and always needs to punch above its weight. Numerous players have left during the summer. Most of those have played bit-part roles, but Ethan Hamilton and Ethan Ebanks-Landell were rather important members of their starting lineup. Only three signings have been made, all on loan. Rekeil Pyke re-joins on loan from Huddersfield, while Rhys Norrington-Davies and Robert Sanchez have no previous League One experience. All in all, their squad certainly looks weaker than last season and Barry-Murphy has a big task ahead of him in his first-ever season as a manager.

Target


The Dale will be pleased as long as they manage to finish outside of the bottom four.

Rotherham United

In


Carlton Morris (att) (Norwich - loan), Dan Barlaser (mid) (Newcastle - loan), Freddie Ladapo (att) (Plymouth), Matthew Olosunde (def) (Manchester United U23), Shaun MacDonald (mid) (Wigan), Julien Lamy (mid) (Plabennec), Ben Purrington (def) (Charlton - loan ended)

Out


Matt Palmer (sp) (mid) (Bradford - loan), Jerry Yates (sp) (att) (Swindon - loan), Sean Ragett (def) (Norwich - loan ended), Richie Towell (r) (Brighton - loan ended), Marek Rodak (r) (gk) (Fulham - loan ended), Will Vaulks (r) (mid) (Cardiff), Semi Ajayi (r) (def) (WBA), Darren Potter (sp) (mid) (Tranmere), Joe Newell (r) (mid) (Hibernian), Alex Bray (sp) (mid) (released), Ryan Williams (r) (mid) (Portsmouth)

Rotherham have become a bit of a yo-yo club lately, having managed two promotions and suffered as many relegations over the last five seasons. The Millers are back to League One after a one-year stay in the Championship, where they gave a decent account of themselves at times, but eventually finished third from bottom, four points below safety. Despite the relegation, the club's board opted against parting ways with Paul Warne, who delivered promotion a couple of seasons ago and will now be trusted with the same task. Several players who played key roles in their previous promotion have left during the summer, such as Will Vaulks, Semi Ajayi, Ritchie Towell, Marek Rodak and Joe Newell. However, Rotherham are a rather attractive destination for League One players and have managed to bring in several players proven in the division, with their biggest coup of the summer being the capture of striker Freddie Ladapo, who had a superb season with Plymouth last time around. Despite Ladapo's arrival, it is difficult to shake off the feeling that Rotherham are a touch weaker than they were last season, with the potential loss of cohesion due to the departures of so many regulars being the issue. Warne has managed to deliver promotion in the only League One season he has had as a manager so far. He took over a squad that needed to gel after a summer of big changes. This was two years ago and he now finds himself in a rather similar situation. Time will tell if he can repeat the trick.

Target


Despite all the changes they have had over the summer, the Millers will be expected to at least deliver a play-off place.

Shrewsbury

In


Abo Eisa (mid) (Colchester - back from loan), Brad Walker (mid) (Wrexham - loan ended), Max O'Leary (gk) (Bristol City - loan), Steve Morison (att) (Millwall - loan), Ryan Giles (mid) (Wolves - loan), Luke McCormick (mid) (Chelsea - loan), Ethan Ebanks-Landell (def) (free), Joe Murphy (gk) (Bury), Donald Love (def) (Sunderland), Aaron Pierre (def) (Northampton), Daniel Udoh (att) (Telford)

Out


Greg Docherty (r) (mid) (Rangers - loan ended), Stefan Payne (r) (att) (Bristol Rovers - loan ended), Jonathan Mitchell (r) (gk) (Derby - loan ended), Sam Smith (sp) (att) (Reading - loan ended), Tyrese Campbell (sp) (att) (Stoke - loan ended), James Bolton (r) (def) (Portsmouth), Mat Sadler (sp) (def) (Walsall), Ryan Haynes (sp) (def) (Newport), Steve Arnold (sp) (gk) (Northampton), Aaron Amadi-Holloway (sp) (att) (Brisbane), Alex Gilliead (sp) (mid) (Scunthorpe)

Shrewsbury were always going to have a difficult 2018/19 season, given that they lost manager Paul Hurst as well as the majority of their players. They struggled under John Askey, who was fired midway through the season, with Sam Ricketts doing superbly well to guide them to safety. Ricketts received a lot of praise for the work he did in charge and has now had the opportunity to make the squad his own. A lot of players have left the club, with the departures of Greg Docherty and James Bolton being major blows, as the duo were among the Salop's standout performers last time around. The list of players that join is also fairly lengthy. The Shrews have two new goalkeepers in their ranks, which is a reaction to the departures of Jonathan Mitchell and Steve Arnold. The experienced Steve Morison is likely to prove a nuisance up top at this level, while Ethan Ebanks-Landell has had spells with several League One clubs and is a proven player at this level. Aaron Pierre and Donald Love are also players with previous League One experience and will be expected to battle for regular starting places this time around. Overall, it seems that the Shrews' squad is currently on a level similar to their last season's one. They were displaying midtable form during the majority of the second half of the previous campaign and it now remains to be seen if that was merely a purple patch.

Target


Shrewsbury have not strengthened enough to be expected to significantly improve on their last season's showing. They will be pleased as long as they stay clear from danger.

Southend United

In


Mark Milligan (mid) (Hibernian), Brandon Goodship (att) (Weymouth), Nathan Ralph (def) (Dundee)

Out


Taylor Moore (r) (def) (Bristol City - loan ended), Harry Bunn (sp) (att) (Bury - loan ended), Sam Hart (r) (def) (Blackburn - loan ended), Michael Turner (sp) (def) (released), Ben Coker (r) (def) (released), Amadou Ba (sp) (att) (released), Stephen Hendrie (sp) (def) (released), Ted Smith (sp) (gk) (released), Norman Wabo (att) (released)

Southend have had a very difficult 2018/19 season, having managed to beat the drop on goal-difference following a win over Sunderland on the last day of the season. Their risky move to go with the inexperienced Kevin Bond as their manager in the late stages of the campaign paid dividends and they decided to reward him with a new contract following the end of the campaign. Their new manager has the opportunity to make the squad his own and has opted against bringing in proven League One players. The three players who have signed so far all lack experience in the division, while the Shrimpers have several players on trial at the moment and are expected to sign at least some of them. The list of players who left is fairly lengthy, but it was mainly a case of the club not offering the men in question new deals. The exceptions are Sam hart and Taylor Moore, who were regulars and performed well last time around, but are now back at their parent clubs. It needs to be noted that Southend's last season's struggles were at least partly caused by their injury situation, as their managers often had to pick from squads missing nine or ten players through injuries. If the situation improves in this regard this time around, the Shrimpers can be expected to do better than they did. However, Bond is still an unknown quantity at this level and it remains to be seen how he will do in the division when not filling a role on a short-term basis.

Target


Southend will be hoping for a midtable finish but a relegation battle cannot be ruled out for them, given how they did last time around.

Sunderland

In


Lee Burge (gk) (Coventry), Jordan Willis (def) (Coventry), Conor McLaughlin (def) (Millwall), Marc McNulty (att) (Reading - loan), George Dobson (mid) (Walsall)

Out


Lewis Morgan (sp) (mid) (Celtic - loan ended), Jimmy Dunne (sp) (def) (Burnley - loan ended), Kazaiah Sterling (sp) (att) (Tottenham - loan ended), Donald Love (sp) (def) (Shrewsbury), Reece James (sp) (def) (Doncaster), Lee Cattermole (r) (mid) (contract expired)

Sunderland entered the previous campaign determined to bounce back after suffering back-to-back relegations. They had their moments, but their campaign as a whole was bitterly disappointing, as they lost both the final of the EFL Trophy and, more importantly, the Play-off final, when a last-minute goal condemned them to a defeat against Charlton. With the Black Cats widely perceived to be too big for League One and failing to achieve promotion, the board's decision to stick with Jack Ross as manager came as a surprise to many. Sunderland had large spells last season during which they were grinding out results and relied on the individual quality of their players rather than a working plan in order to get results and this is something that Ross will need to address this time around. Several on-loan players are back with their parent clubs, Donald Love and Reece James have been allowed to leave, while the sole departed player that the Black Cats would have preferred to keep is Lee Cattermole, who leaves following the expiry of his contract. They opted for quality other than quantity when bringing in men. Three proven League One defensive players were signed in Lee Burge and Jordan Willis, who sign from Coventry, and Conor McLaughlin, who joins from Millwall. Marc McNulty and George Dobson sign from Reading and Walsall, respectively, and are both also players who are proven quality in this division. Sunderland's squad looks even stronger than last time around and there will be no excuses for Ross if he once again fails to deliver promotion.

Target


The Black Cats will be expected to deliver promotion and to do it without needing to participate in the play-offs.

Tranmere Rovers

In


Jordan Ponticelli (att) (Coventry - loan), Calum Woods (def) (Bradford), Stefan Payne (att) (Bristol Rovers), Darren Potter (mid) (Rotherham), Corey Blackett-Taylor (mid) (Aston Villa), George Ray (def) (Crewe),

Out


Ben Pringle (r) (mid) (Preston - loan ended), Luke McCullogh (r) (mid) (Doncaster - loan ended), Jonny Smith (sp) (mid) (Bristol City - loan ended), Paddy Wharton (sp) (gk) (FC United), Cole Stockton (sp) (att) (Morecambe), Ben Tollitt (r) (mid) (Blackpool), James Norwood (k) (mid) (Ipswich), Steve McNulty (sp) (def) (York), Jay Devine (mid) (released)

Tranmere have all the momentum going into the new season, having played non-league football a couple of years ago. The Rovers have achieved back-to-back promotions, both times via the play-offs, with the last season's League Two play-off final seeing them score late on to beat Newport. Unfortunately for Tranmere, their success did not to unnoticed, with their talisman James Norwood, who scored 32 goals last time around, snapped up by Ipswich. Norwood is not the sole regular to have left the club, as Ben Tolitt has joined Blackpool, while Ben Pringle and Luke McCullogh have returned to their parent clubs following the ends of their respective loan deals. However, the Rovers have signed a number of players with League One experience, such as Darren Potter, George Ray, Calum Woods and Stefan Payne. Jordan Ponticelli, who joins from Coventry, is a promising striker and will be hoping to have a breakthrough season. Despite losing their standout performer, Tranmere will be moderately confident going into the new season. They have a decent-sized squad capable of dealing with the demands of a tough League One schedule, and are littered with players who previously played in the division all over the pitch. They were never in a division lower than the third tier between 1987 and 2014 and, being back from the wilderness, will want to re-establish themselves as a League One club.

Target


Tranmere will be pleased as long as they manage to stay away from trouble. The main question is whether other players will step up to compensate for Norwood's departure.

Wycombe Wanderers

In


Paul Smyth (att) (QPR - loan), Craig Mackail-Smith (att) (Notts County - back from loan), Alex Pattison (mid) (Middlesbrough), Jamie Mascoll (def) (Charlton), Jack Grimmer (def) (Coventry), Jacob Gardiner-Smith (def) (free), Giles Phillips (def) (QPR - loan),

Out


Luke Bolton (sp) (mid) (Manchester City - loan ended), Charlie Owens (sp) (mid) (QPR - loan ended), Paris Cowan-Hall (sp) (mid) (Colchester), Darius Charles (sp) (def) (released), Marcus Bean (sp) (mid) (released), Yves Makabu-Makalambay (sp) (gk) (released), Michael Harriman (sp) (def) (released), Ben Frempah (att) (released), Nathan Tyson (sp) (att) (released)

Wycombe finished the previous season as 17th in League One, which was their highest Football League finish in 17 years, with Gareth Ainsworth describing survival as his greatest achievement as manager. However, the Chairboys owe their survival mainly to results from earlier in the season, having been as high up the table as ninth until February. Results fell off a cliff then and only a couple of wins over direct relegation rivals managed to keep them safe. Despite achieving the goal of survival, Ainsworth will be well aware that he is in charge of a side desperately short of momentum and it is hardly surprising that he opted to shake up the squad during the summer. Not a single important player has left the club, as the men who have left were either fringe players or hardly featured last time around due to injuries, with Darius Charles the prime example for the latter situation. The Chairboys have signed seven new players so far, with the new arrivals a mixed bag when it comes to having any prior League One experience. However, Wycombe hardly have the resources to try and bring in more high-profile signings and Ainsworth will once again be expected to make the most out of what is a rather mediocre group of players. While a rather well organized side that is hard to dislike by neutrals, Wycombe lack the resources and the quality of the majority of teams in the division and will once again have to beat the odds if they are to stay up.

Target


Any sort of a finish outside of the bottom four would be seen as mission accomplished.