Championship preview: Aston Villa, Fulham, Middlesbrough and more - who are this season's promotion favourites?

John Terry believes his new club have the means and experience to secure their place in England's top flight - but who will they be competing against?

Jack Watson
Tuesday 01 August 2017 17:50
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John Terry has his sights set on a return to the Premier League with Aston Villa
John Terry has his sights set on a return to the Premier League with Aston Villa

Former Chelsea captain John Terry has revealed that Aston Villa will not settle for anything less than first place in the Championship next season.

Terry joined Aston Villa after his contract with the Premier League champions expired at the end of the 2016-17 season.

The 36-year-old says it is an exciting chapter and confirmed that Aston Villa want nothing less than to lift the Championship trophy. “Lifting the trophy is what we want to be doing at the end of the season. Our ambition is to get up,” Terry told Sky Sports.

The defender was also full of praise for his new manager who worked hard to bring him to Villa Park. “The manager with his experience he can bring and offer to the group, it’s impeccable, really.

“We are going to be looking for promotion as we have everything is in place to do it: the manager, the squad, the facilities, the stadium the fans.”

Aston Villa begin their assault on promotion at home against Hull. Despite suffering relegation from the Premier League last season and a change in manager, Terry has backed the Tigers to also challenge for a place in England’s top tier. “Hull will be right up for it having been relegated but they will be looking to get straight back up.”

Plenty of teams will have their eyes on promotion, or the play-offs, and Terry recognises that Villa are not the only side in with a chance of going up. “There are five or six clubs will have the same ambition.

“We have to work consistently hard to do well and grind out results - there are a lot of games in the Championship but we also have the mental toughness.”

Terry backs Hull to do well but bookmakers place Aston Villa and Middlesborough as joint favourites to finish first - but who else is in the running for promotion?

Fulham

Last season Slavisa Jokanovic was credited with playing attractive football with a young squad which made their way to play-off semi-finals before suffering defeat.

When the club’s captain Tom Cairney signed an extension on his contact to keep him at the club until 2021, it felt like the club had announced a new signing and it gave the rest of the team a vote of confidence. Cairney is arguably one of the best players outside the Premier League and the image of him in the Premier League with Fulham is not beyond imagination.

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic

Players in: Ibrahima Cisse, Marcelo Djalo, Aboubakar Kamara.

Players out: Lasse Vigen Christiensen, Larnell Cole, Jack Grimmer, Jesse Joronen, Scott Malone, Scott Parker, Richard Stearman, Ryan Tunnicliffe.

Promotion odds: 3/1

Leeds

In April, Leeds were fourth and six points clear of seventh with seven games to go. In May, at the end of the season, Leeds were out of the play-offs and had lost their manager, Gary Monk. It is back to square one for the club who looked like they were finally heading in the right direction after years in the abyss. Leeds replaced Monk with Thomas Christiansen who joined from Cypriot side APOEL.

Leeds missed out on a place in the play-offs last season

Players in: Ergjan Alioski, Samuel Saiz Alonso, Vurnon Anita, Caleb Ekuban, Mateusz Klinch, Felix Wiedwald.

Players out: Giuseppe Bellusci, Jordan Botaka, Lee Erwin, Alex Purver, Marco Silvestri, Charlie Taylor, Ross Turnbull, Jack Vann, Billy Whitehouse.

Promotion odds: 5/1

Wolves

Wolves are in their best position to gain promotion to the Premier League since their relegation in the 2011/12 season. Nuno Espirito Santo is in charge of Wolves and has acquired a host of new talent, including former Porto player Ruben Neves, as the club eyes a return to the top flight.

Players in: Ryan Bennett, Barry Douglas, Ruben Neves, Will Norris, Phil Ofosu-Ayeh, Roderick, Leo Bonatini.

Players out: Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, James Henry, George Saville, Silvio, Mike Williamson.

Promotion odds: 10/3

Ruben Neves joined Wolves this summer

Middlesbrough​

Middlesbrough are looking to emulate their north-east neighbours Newcastle and bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. The Boro board look like they are following Newcastle’s approach by going with a squad proven and familiar with the Championship, starting with manager Garry Monk.

Monk stunned Leeds when he resigned from the side after a year in charge and took the vacant role at the Teesside club. This summer Monk has addressed the lack of goals which contributed to Middlesbrough’s relegation when they scored a league low 27. Signing Britt Assombalonga, Ashley Fletcher and Jonny Howson should ensure Boro have the firepower to propel them back into the top flight.

Gary Monk shocked Leeds to join Middlesbrough as manager

Players in: Britt Assombalonga, Martin Braithwaite, Cyrus Christie, Ashley Fletcher, Jonny Howson, Darren Randolph.

Players out: Bernardo Espinosa, Viktor Fischer, James Husband, Carlos De Pena.

Promotion odds: 2/1

Aston Villa

Aston Villa spent more than £60m in last year’s summer transfer window and continued to splash out in the January window. Despite this spending and a change in manager, Villa failed to finish in the top half of the Championship.

This season, with Steve Bruce in charge and a squad filled with high-value players, anything less than promotion will be deemed a failure for a club as big as Villa.

Players in: John Terry, Ahmed Elmohamady, Christopher Samba, Glenn Whelan.

Players out: Nathan Baker, Libor Kozak, Jordan Veretout.

Promotion odds: 2/1

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