Championship Preview: QPR, Reading start at home
By Football News
QPR, Reading and Wigan Athletic will begin life in the Championship on Saturday while newly promoted Yeovil Town travel to Millwall.
The new season resumes with all 24 clubs involved in the second tier of English football having hopes of reaching the Premier League and enjoying the riches that come along with it.
Regarded by football fans as the most competitive league in the world, the 2013-14 edition of the Championship is sure to throw up its share of thrilling matches, shock results and unbelievable storylines again.
Much of the opening-day focus will surround the three teams relegated from the top flight, with Harry Redknapp's QPR set to start their campaign with a home fixture against Sheffield Wednesday.
With the likes of Loic Remy, Adel Taarabt, Bobby Zamora, Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Robert Green still on QPR's books, the London club have more than enough quality about them to mount to a title push.
How many of the club's big names will be at Loftus Road once the transfer window shuts remains to be seen, but they should be far too good for a Wednesday outfit who have failed to strengthen significantly during the close-season.
Reading open their season at home to Ipswich Town and followers of Nigel Adkins' side will have their fingers crossed that star striker Adam Le Fondre remains at the club.
Wigan travel to Oakwell to face Barnsley as Owen Coyle takes charge of his first competitive game with the 2013 FA Cup winners.
Coyle's men are a serious title threat, having kept the majority of their best players, while they also signed proven goalscorer Grant Holt in July.
Yeovil will play their first ever match in the second tier of English football at The New Den against Millwall.
Gary Johnson's efforts to get Yeovil promoted from League One on a shoe-string budget are to be commended and he will be hopeful that Paddy Madden – who scored 23 goals last term – can help his team make a positive start against Steve Lomas' Millwall.
A host of big names remain in the Championship, with Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Derby County all hopeful their large fan bases can help them return to the Premier League.
Leeds – who have kept hold of star teenager Sam Byram and added Crewe captain Luke Murphy – start with a home fixture against Brighton and Hove Albion, while Forest face Huddersfield Town, two clubs who have spent big in the close-season.
Derby are in action on Sunday against Blackburn Rovers.
Other matches on the first weekend of the Championship – which commemorates the 150th year anniversary of the Football League – see Burnley battle Bolton Wanderers at Turf Moor and Birmingham City host last season's beaten play-off finalists Watford.
Newly promoted Doncaster Rovers and AFC Bournemouth are at home against Blackpool and Charlton Athletic respectively, while Leicester City travel to Middlesbrough.