Kinkladze and Sinclair hold keys to promotion

FIRST DIVISION

The megabucks may be in the Premiership but the presence of Georgi Kinkladze, Trevor Sinclair, Terry Venables and Steve Bruce means the First Division is hardly bereft of bankable names. To counterbalance a lack of quality in depth, it also promises the fiercest competition in all four sections.

Going into the final third of last season a handful of points separated the sides in play-off contention from those fighting relegation. If standards are even, however, resources are not, although those with no benefactor can take heart from the promotion of Derby and Sunderland, canny spenders both.

Leicester's instant return to the land of milk and money, allied to Crystal Palace's near miss, also indicates that clubs dropping from the Premiership retain a critical edge. Manchester City and Queen's Park Rangers have (so far) resisted overtures for Kinkladze and Sinclair. If they stay - which will depend on a positive start - both should be near the summit.

Bolton's prospects look less bright, especially since Sasa Curcic has now signed for Aston Villa. Their followers, like City's, will have noted Bruce Rioch's availability with interest.

Buying experience for the short-term objective of getting up is a blueprint established by Leeds and Blackburn, who duly dispensed with the likes of Vinnie Jones and David Speedie once up. Birmingham may not expect more than a season or two from Steve Bruce, but he should be hugely influential. Alan Shearer's best foil, Mike Newell, could be a snip at pounds 775,000 alongside the pounds 1.5m Paul Furlong.

Wolves' woes last winter prove that it is not simply a matter of throwing money at the market. Mark McGhee's honeymoon with a restless support will be over if his surprisingly low-key close-season recruits - Keith Curle and Iwan Roberts to partner Dean Richards and Steve Bull in the spine of the team - do not produce results.

Sheffield United's revival provided pleasing confirmation of Howard Kendall's rehabilitation and of boardroom ambition. Nigel Spackman, as player-assistant manager, and the Belarus striker Peter Kachuro are the major additions to a squad already equipped for the higher reaches.

As for Dave Bassett's new charges, Palace, "all" they have to do is recapture the consistency he instilled during their spring surge. Much depends on finding someone good enough to fill Nigel Martyn's gloves - the Simon Tracey deal floundered yesterday - and on Ray Houghton's enduring relish for the fray.

Norwich, with Mike Walker restored, should be thereabouts if not quite there. Spencer Prior's defection to Leicester will not be seen as a continuation of Robert Chase's selling policy if it means holding on to Darren Eadie. The scenario at Portsmouth has echoes of the hostility to Chase, and Venables may yet be tempted elsewhere if fresh capital is not forthcoming.

Charlton and Huddersfield, having lost Lee Bowyer and Andy Booth, may have to settle for respectability. West Bromwich and Swindon could be better dark horses. Albion followed the cult capture of Richard Sneekes by freeing the purse strings for Alan Buckley, while Steve McMahon is too ruthless to rest on the laurels of Swindon's Second Division title.

Neighbouring Reading and Oxford may toil, along with Oldham, Southend and the Potteries clubs. Port Vale's FA Cup exploits were a fine advertisement for flair on a shoestring, but John Rudge can not defy straitened circumstances indefinitely. Lou Macari deserved an award for taking Stoke to fourth place after minimal outlay. Key players have gone, and Mike Sheron and Larus Sigurdsson could follow to ease debts, so a repeat would be a real loaves-and-fishes job.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: TRAINEE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT - IT - LONDON

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'