1. ITV Report

The Championship 2013/14 preview

Anthony Knockaert as Leicester City are knocked out of the play-offs by Watford Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

BIRMINGHAM CITY:

Birmingham City have invested in a number of proven Football League players Credit: David Davies/EMPICS Sport

Last season:

12th in The Championship

Odds:

  • Promotion - 10/1
  • Relegation - 9/1

Manager:

Lee Clark

Players bought:

  • Scott Allan (WBA)
  • Matt Green (Mansfield)
  • Dan Burn (Fulham)
  • Andrew Shinnie (Inverness)
  • Olly Lee (Barnet)
  • Lee Novak (Huddersfield)
  • Tom Adeyemi (Norwich)
  • Darren Randolph (Motherwell)
  • Neal Eardley (Blackpool)
  • Kyle Bartley (Swansea)
  • Steven Caldwell (Toronto FC)
  • Shane Ferguson (Newcastle)

Financial uncertainty has been inflicted on Birmingham City in the last couple of seasons with the continued trial of owner Carson Yeung hanging over them.

This explains the need to sell their two most prized assets Curtis Davies and Nathan Redmond (for a £2m fee which could prove to be a real bargain for Norwich City).

Manager Lee Clark has invested in proven Football League players such as Hayden Mullins and Neal Eardley but has also taken a few risks. The likes of Matt Green and Olly Lee have been plucked from the lower divisions and it will be interesting to see how they fare.

Clark as also put a lot of faith on loan signings with the hope that Premier League players Shane Ferguson and Dan Burn can add some class to the squad.

Either way the opening match at St Andrews against Watford will be an emotional affair with tributes to be made to former Blue Christian Benitez who died earlier this week.

DERBY COUNTY:

Nigel Clough has invested a lot in his young players during his tenure Credit: Nigel French/EMPICS Sport

Last season:

10th in The Championship

Odds:

  • Promotion - 8/1
  • Relegation - 10/1

Manager:

Nigel Clough

Players bought:

  • Adam Smith (Tottenham)
  • John Eustace (Watford)
  • Johnny Russell (Dundee Utd)
  • Craig Forsyth (Watford)
  • Chris Martin (Norwich)
  • Lee Grant (Burnley)

It has been a while since the lavish-spending years of former Derby County sides. 2007-8's record-breaking Premier League side for all the wrong reasons is long gone and, in its place, is a team full of youth and potential.

Mason Bennett, Will Hughes and Jeff Hendrick are all players with great promise who could thrive in the league this year.

On top of that, Nigel Clough has spent a bit of money with the purchase of Johnny Russell and John Eustace hoping to take Derby a few steps further than they have been in the previous few seasons.

They may not challenge for automatic promotion this season but they are heading in the right direction.

LEICESTER CITY:

Leicester City have bought just one player this summer Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Last season:

6th in The Championship (lost to Watford in the play-offs semi-finals)

Odds:

  • Promotion - 7/2
  • Relegation - 33/1

Manager:

Nigel Pearson

Players bought:

  • Zoumana Bakayogo (Tranmere Rovers)

After the heart-break of last season's play-off semi-final loss to Watford it appears the hangover from that defeat has continued into the summer.

Just one player has been signed this transfer window, squad player Bakayogo who has yet to appear at this level, and manager Nigel Pearson has confirmed that will be it.

But the recent awarding of top academy status for the Foxes may be a sign of things to come with significant money invested in recent years. This, along with the recent purchase of the King Power Stadium, means the wage bill may be stretched as far as it can and a couple of years of austerity may be on the cards.

But recent signing Chris Wood ended last season superbly and with a pre-season with the team under his belt could be a catalyst for another play-off push.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST:

Nottingham Forest have brought in a number of players this transfer window Credit: Scott Wilson/EMPICS Sport

Last season:

8th in The Championship

Odds:

  • Promotion - 7/2
  • Relegation - 28/1

Manager:

Billy Davies

Players bought:

  • Jamie Mackie (QPR)
  • Djamel Abdoun (Olympiacos)
  • Jack Hobbs (Hull City)
  • Dorus de Vries (Wolves)
  • Jamie paterson (Walsall)
  • Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa)
  • Gonzalo Jara (WBA)

One of the busier sides of the transfer window, Forest have assembled a squad with strength in depth and could be a decent outside bet for automatic promotion.

They did lose two of their better players in Lewis McGugan and David McGoldrick but still have a decent number of strikers on the books.

Their weakness has long been at the defensive end but manager Billy Davies has bought well with Jack Hobbs looking a good prospect and the likes of Eric Lichaj and Gonzalo Jara arriving with Premier League experience. It will be at that end that will decide where Forest finish.

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