The bookies tend to stick with what they know in League One, making anyone who can boast reasonably recent top-flight football as their favourites. Therefore, it’s not unexpected to see Blackburn (6/4 to be promoted), Portsmouth (3/1) and Wigan (5/2) up there. Rovers will expect big things of talented former-Gillingham playmaker Bradley Dack and, if he can forge an understanding with acclaimed striker Danny Graham, the funk around Ewood Park might finally begin to lift.
Wigan may need a season to regroup after a disastrous 2016/17 and Pompey will have to acclimatise to the leap in quality between Leagues One and Two. Bradford City (9/2 at Sky Bet) seem a better bet after missing out in the play-off final last time around. Centre-half Rory McArdle will be missed but, if they can defend anywhere near as well as last term, recently-added firepower in the form of Dominic Poleon should be enough to tip them over the edge come May.
Last season’s third-placed finishers Scunthorpe (6/1 at William Hill) have added defensive steel in McArdle and midfield creativity from Belgian Funso Ojo, and will be up there if marksman Paddy Madden can avoid last year’s injury woes. Elsewhere, Bury (8/1 at BetVictor) have recruited exceptionally well under the radar and the likes of Jermaine Beckford, Stephen Dawson, Nicky Ajose and Jay O’Shea are all more than capable of helping the Shakers mount a serious assault on the top six.
Shrewsbury finished three places and two points above the dropzone last time and they may not be so lucky this year. Experienced players like Jim O’Brien and Olly Lancashire have been replaced by a selection of recruits from youth teams and the lower tiers. Paul Hurst is a wily manager, but Paddy Power’s 13/10 on them dropping to the basement seems fair.
Gillingham could be in big trouble too, without the talismanic Dack pushing them on. They survived by a single point in May and Boylesports has 7/4 on them being relegated at the end of this campaign. Of the potential strugglers, Blackpool are the most difficult to read. The carnival of off-pitch shenanigans at Bloomfield Road managed not to disrupt last season’s promotion campaign, but the squad has seen a huge amount of churn over summer and that rarely ends well. Ladbrokes has 13/8 on a swift return to League Two for the Tangerines.
Blackburn’s Danny Graham managed 13 goals in 40 games for a struggling Championship side last year and should thrive with better supply and weaker opposition this time. Bet365 has 12/1 on him topping the chart, ahead of Portsmouth’s Brett Pitman (14/1), who will hope to regain some form after notching only four times for Ipswich last season.
Wigan’s Omar Bogle set League Two on fire with Grimsby, but only managed three goals after making the switch to the DW in January. A new season and a new division could be to his liking, and 14/1 at William Hill is very tempting. Ricky Miller of Peterborough is at the same price, but the prolific former-Dover forward will have to sit out the first six games of the season after being found guilty of biting an opponent, giving his competitors a head start.
Elsewhere, Jermaine Beckford of Bury has scored for fun at this level in the past and is 20/1 with Sky Bet, whilst Scunthorpe’s Paddy Madden (25/1 at Betfred) should never be discounted and Doncaster’s John Marquis looks good at 33/1 after netting 26 in 48 in League Two.
Sports.net’s League One Predictions
11. Bristol Rovers
18. MK Dons
21. AFC Wimbledon
Sports.net's Top Tip
|Top 6 Finish||