Bolton face opening match against Burnley on return to Championship

 

Relegated Bolton and their manager Owen Coyle face a hostile baptism on their return to the npower Championship after being handed an opening-day trip to Burnley.

Wanderers were relegated from the Premier League on the final day of the season, and the 19-mile August 18 trip to their local rivals would have been a testing enough start, without the bad blood that exists between Coyle and the Clarets.

The Scot quit Turf Moor in 2010 to move to the Reebok Stadium - they were relegated five months later - and can be sure of a rough ride against his former club, now managed by Eddie Howe.

A top-six finish will be the minimum expectation at Blackburn after their high-profile relegation.

Steve Kean has kept his job as manager so far despite the numerous protests against him, and an opening day win at Ipswich could prove that better times are ahead this season.

The other club to head to the second tier from the Premier League were Wolves, and their new manager, Stale Solbakken, start at Leeds.

Runaway League One champions Charlton open at Birmingham - seeking a new manager after Chris Hughton went to Norwich - while runners-up Sheffield Wednesday mark their Championship return with a match at Derby.

Simon Grayson's Huddersfield, play-off final winners, go to Cardiff who will give their controversial new all-red kid its first airing, while big-spending Leicester host Peterborough.

Elsewhere on the opening day, play-off losers Blackpool go to Millwall, Steve Bruce will start life as Hull manager at home to Brighton, Barnsley take on Middlesbrough, Bristol City are at Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace face Watford.

There are no shortage of derby clashes, with 10 northern sides and another five from the midlands.

Huddersfield fans will look straight for their December 1 clash with Leeds with that in mind, while Blackburn and Bolton first meet on November 28.

The normally-taxing Christmas period involves three games (Boxing Day, December 29 and January 1), with Bolton's hosting of Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn's trip to Middlesbrough the most attractive-looking December 26 dates.

Owing to the later-than-usual kick-off date, the season does not end until May 4.

Birmingham host Blackburn on the final day, Blackpool go to Bolton, Wolves head to Brighton, Hull are at home to Cardiff, while east Midlands rivals Forest and Leicester meet.

PA

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