The 2018/19 Championship season gets underway on August 3 with plenty of clubs believing they are capable of winning promotion this term.
Stoke City, Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion are amongst the more fancied teams, but there are at least a dozen sides could force their way into contention. Read on as we look at the battle to reach the Premier League.
Karanka to lead Forest to the title
Nottingham Forest have invested heavily this summer to get promotion and boss Aitor Karanka is fancied to lead the club to the title.
Forest haven’t finished above eighth place in the last six years, but controversial Greek owner Evangelos Marinakis has backed Karanka in the transfer market.
The club have brought in Lewis Grabban, Jack Colback, Michael Dawson, Costel Pantilimon, Jack Robinson, Tobias Figueiredo, Diogo Goncalves, Joao Carvalho, Gil Dias and Hillai Soudani to leave Forest fans dreaming of a return to the Premier League.
Karanka took Middlesbrough up in 2016 and he is fancied to repeat the trick with Forest this season.
Derby to put disappointments behind them under Lampard
The Rams have reached the play-offs in three of the last five seasons, but they are yet to complete the job and win promotion to the top flight.
Most of the best betting sites in the UK have Derby priced at around 4/1 to go up this time and that looks a solid wager.
Although this former Chelsea star Frank Lampard’s first venture into management, he already looks to have an eye for a player as evidenced by the loan signings of Mason Mount and Harry Wilson.
Striker Jack Marriott has also arrived at Pride Park after a prolific season with Peterborough United in League One. If he continues in the same vein, Derby could be difficult to keep out of the top two this season.
Stoke and Boro leading a host of play-off hopefuls
Stoke City are favourites for the title following their relegation from the Premier League, but it is worth noting just how woeful they were last term.
They have managed to keep hold of the likes Ryan Shawcross, Joe Allen and Bruno Martins Indi and brought in quality new signings such as Benik Afobe and Oghenekaro Etebo.
If last season’s relegation hasn’t left too much of a mark the Potters should be in contention for a play-off spot.
Elsewhere, Tony Pulis will get Middlesbrough organised defensively and if they can hold onto winger Adama Traore they can finish in the top six again.
Leeds United, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United should also be in contention, while Preston North End and newly-promoted Blackburn Rovers could be lively outsiders.