Who could be the Championship strugglers in 2018-19? And who could be in for a surprise drop into League One?

Last season saw a hugely surprising relegation from the Championship – as Sunderland dropped into the third tier. The Black Cats were expected to be, at worst, a mid-table side, but Simon Grayson and, then former Wales and Fulham boss Chris Coleman, couldn’t keep them in the division.

Having taken a look at the potential promotion challengers earlier in the week, LUCAS BALL assesses who he thinks may be at risk of falling into League One this term.

 

BOLTON

Bolton’s pre-season got off to a very shaky start when they had to cancel their first friendly against St Mirren due to the players going on strike after delayed/unpaid bonuses and wages. 

Wanderers finished 21st last season, scoring two late goals in their final match to ensure safety, sending Barnsley and Burton back to the third tier.

The Trotters have moved quickly to overhaul their squad though it remains to be seen if Phil Parkinson can re-unite his dressing room to pick up the points required to stay up.

Erhun Otzumer, pictured above, looks to be their most exciting addition so far – a proven League One player looking to make the step-up to the Championship. 

The huge loss of experience may have freed up some of the wage budget, but it may serve Bolton poorly come May 2019.

Transfers in: Pawel Olkowski; Jason Lowe; Clayton Donaldson; Stephen Duke-McKenna; Erhun Oztumer; Chiori Johnson; Joe Pritchard [all free transfers]

Transfers out: Chris Taylor; Mark Howard [free transfers to Blackpool]; Jeff King [free transfer to St Mirren]; Aaron Wilbraham [free transfer to Rochdale]; Karl Henry; Derik Osede; Jan Kirchoff; Filipe Morais; Darren Pratley; Dorian Dervite; Jem Karacan; Chinedu Obasi [all released]

 

ROTHERHAM UNITED

The Yorkshire-based outfit won promotion via the League One play-offs in 2017-18, with Richard Wood twice netting against Shrewsbury Town. Were it not for a fine performance by Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson that day, the Millers may have netted more goals too.

But I would expect Paul Warne’s side to only be a Championship team for this year alone. There is a distinct lack of second-tier experience in the side, and also a lack of technically-gifted players. They also have a large squad – 29 players – meaning creating a harmonious dressing room will be tough for the manager, with 11 players missing out on the match day squad every week.

The summer signings so far seem to just be adding depth, rather than improving the quality of the starting eleven, a further cause of concern for the Rotherham faithful. Former Millwall man Shaun Cummings will also have his chance in the Championship again, though he made just 15 appearances in all competitions in 2017-18.

Transfers in: Kyle Vassell; Clark Robertson [undisclosed fees from Blackpool]; Zak Vyner [loan from Bristol City]

Transfers out: Jonson Clarke-Harris [free transfer to Coventry]

Blackpool’s Kyle Vassell celebrates with the trophy after the final whistle

 

Queens Park Rangers’ Ebere Eze during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday February 20, 2018. See PA story SOCCER Sheff Utd. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

QPR

The west Londoners sacked manager Ian Holloway at the end of last season, deciding to replace him with former England boss Steve McClaren after last season’s 16th-placed finish, ending with 56 points.

There are a lot of youngsters in the squad, who haven’t played a lot of first team football – though they will be hoping to impress the same way as ex Lion Ebere Eze, who was excellent after breaking into the team during the second half of last season. 

With too many youngsters, they may not have the steel and grit required to succeed at this level, no matter how good you are technically.

Joe Lumley has been handed the number one shirt by McClaren.

There has been only one new signing at Loftus Road, that of a German Second Division centre-back Toni Leistner.

Transfers in: Toni Leistner [free transfer from Union Berlin]

Transfers out: Alex Smithies [£4 million to Cardiff]; Jack Robinson [free transfer to Nottingham Forest]; Jay Emmanuel-Thomas; Nedum Onouha; Jamie Mackie; James Perch [all released]

Sheffield Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay before the game

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

This may seem like a weird selection, but Wednesday’s squad is quite limited on depth in some areas of the pitch, and they need to offload some of their top earners, and thus best players, to reduce the wage bill for the coming season.

Last season’s 15th-placed finish was disappointing for most of the Owls’ fanbase, with Jos Luhukay fairly restricted in terms of team selection due to not wanting to activate contract clauses in players’ deals.

There have been no additions so far.

Transfers In: None

Transfers Out: Jack Hunt [£1.7 million to Bristol City]; Jordan Rhodes [loan to Norwich]; Glenn Loovens; Ross Wallace; Jake Kean [all released]; Frederico Venancio [returning from a loan spell]

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