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York City will take on 23 rivals on their return to the Football League. Here JAMES SCOTT and DAVE FLETT run the rule over the ranks of npower League Two, looking at the transfer ins and outs, the potential star men while also getting a verdict from those in the know at every club in the division.
Manager: Terry Brown
Ground: The Fans Stadium – Kingsmeadow (capacity 4,720).
Last season: 16th
Nickname: The Dons
Star man: Jack Midson
In: Curtis Osano (Luton), Stacy Long (Stevenage), Louis Harris (Wolves), Warren Cummings (Bournemouth), Angus McDonald (Reading –
six-month loan), Pim Balkestein (Brentford).
Out: Christopher Bush (Gateshead), Jack Turner, Fraser Franks, Gareth Gwillim, Brett Johnson, Jamie Stuart, Reece Jones, Ricky Wellard, Kieran Djilali, Sam Hatton (Grimsby).
Verdict: “AFC Wimbledon boss Terry Brown is hoping the signings of Angus MacDonald and Pim Balkestein will bolster last season’s leaky defence and provide a solid base for a better finish than 16th. Keeping hold of top scorer Jack Midson has proved a huge bonus, with the Dons aiming for a top ten finish.” (Wimbledon Guardian)
Manager: Paul Cook
Ground: The Crown Ground (capacity 5,057).
Last season: 14th
Star man: Charlie Barnett
In: George Miller (Preston), Bohan Dixon, Toto Nsiala (Everton), Lewis Hatch (Liverpool), Luke Clark (Preston), James Gray (Darlington), Tom Eckersley (Bolton), Aiden Chippendale (Huddersfield), Michael Liddle (Sunderland), Karl Sheppard (Reading – loan).
Out: Ian Craney, Sean Hessey, Kevin McIntyre (Rochdale).
Verdict: “The club is currently in transition after the departure of manager John Coleman to Rochdale. Fans will be hoping for stability and a steady season.” (Lancashire Telegraph)
Manager: Dean Holdsworth
Ground: The EBB Stadium (capacity 7,100)
Last season: 11th
Nickname: The Shots
Star man: Craig Reid
In: Troy Brown (Rotherham), Olly Lancashire (Walsall), Anthony Tonkin (Oxford), Craig Stanley (Bristol Rovers), Guy Branston (Bradford), Craig Reid (Stevenage).
Out: Darren Jones (Shrewsbury), Anthony Straker (Southend), Bradley Bubb (Woking).
Verdict: “After a decent season last year, the club have signed six players, including four defenders. Although we’re one of the smaller teams in the division, we’ve had a bit of a clear-out and should finish in the top half of the table.” (Aldershot News and Mail)
Manager: Mark Robson
Ground: Underhill Stadium (capacity 5,260)
Last season: 22nd
Nickname: The Bees
Star man: Ricky Holmes
In: Sam Cowler (West Ham), Oliver Lee (West Ham), Jordan Brown (West Ham), Jake Hyde (Dundee), Jonathan Fortune (Yeovil), Jon Nurse (Dagenham), Ahmed Abdulla (Dagenham), Freddie Warren (Hayes & Yeading).
Out: Izale McLeod, Dean Brill (Luton), Sam Cox, Darren Dennehy, Mark Marshall, Alassane N’Diaye, Jordon Parkes, Mark Hughes, Sam Deering (Cheltenham).
Verdict: “Hopefully we can avoid a final game scare this season. We should be playing a purer style of football under Mark Robson with the emphasis on keeping the ball on the deck. If this proves to be fruitful we should be looking at the mid to the lower end of the table.” (Barnet Times)
Manager: Phil Parkinson
Ground: Valley Parade (capacity 25,136)
Last season: 18th
Nickname: The Bantams
Star man: Gary Jones
In: Rory McArdle (Aberdeen), Andrew Davies (Stoke), Gary Jones (Rochdale), James Meredith (York), Will Atkinson (Plymouth) Garry Thompson (Scunthorpe), Stephen Darby (Liverpool), Alan Connell (Swindon), Nathan Doyle (Barnsley).
Out: Lee Bullock (York), David Syers (Doncaster), Mark Stewart (Dundee), Marcel Seip, Rob Kozluk, Luke Dean (Harrogate Town).
Verdict: “There’s a quiet confidence at the club that this could be the year. We’ve made some decent signings and with the size of the club, there’s a genuine belief that we could challenge.” (The Telegraph and Argus)
Manager: Mark McGhee
Ground: Memorial Stadium (capacity 12,011)
Last season: 13th
Nickname: The Pirates
Star man: Matt Harrol
In: Oliver Norburn (Leicester), Seanan Clucas (Preston), Gary Kenneth (Dundee United), David Clarkson (Bristol City), Rogvi Baldvinsson (Algard), Matthew Lund (Stoke – six-month loan).
Out: Byron Anthony, Scott McGleish, Charlie Reece, Charlie Clough, Lance Cronin, Michael Boateng, Kayne McLaggon, Gary Sawyer (Leyton Orient), Craig Stanley (Aldershot), Chris Zebrowski (Cheltenham), Mustapha Carayol (Middlesbrough).
Verdict: “If we bolster the defence and keep hold of Carayol we
should do okay. We have a young squad and a good manager in Mark McGhee so we could be a contender for the play-offs.” (Bristol Evening Post)
Manager: Gary Rowett
Ground: Pirelli Stadium (capacity 6,912)
Last season: 17th
Nickname: The Brewers
Star man: Billy Kee
In: Zander Diamond (Oldham), Robbie Weir (Tranmere), Damien McCrory (Dagenham), Lee Bell (Crewe), Ross Atkins (Derby - loan), Dean Lyness (Kidderminster), Marcus Holness (Rochdale).
Out: Ryan Austin, Adam Bolder, Tony James, Greg Pearson (Grimsby), Danny Blanchett (York), Andres Gurrieri, Kristian Ramsey-Dickson, Patrick Ada, James Wren, Kevin Poole.
Verdict: “Gary Rowett has worked on tightening a defence that conceded the most goals in the division last term. If we keep hold of our strikers, we should be comfortably mid-table.” (Burton Mail)
Manager: Mark Yates
Ground: Whaddon Road (capacity 7,066)
Last season: 6th
Nickname: The Robins
Star man: Marlon Pack
In: Sam Deering (Barnet), Billy Jones (Exeter), Chris Zebrowski (Bristol Rovers), Shaun Harrad (Bury).
Out: Josh Lewis, Brian Smikle, Theo Lewis, Luke Summerfield (Shrewsbury).
Verdict: “The Robins were a surprise package last year, getting into the play-offs with the added bonus of an FA Cup tie with Spurs. We’ll do well to match our efforts last year but with a bigger budget we could sneak into the play-offs.” (Gloucester Citizen)
Manager: John Sheridan
Ground: B2Net Stadium (capacity 10,400)
Last season: 22nd in League One
Nickname: The Spirerites
Star man: Mark Richardson
In: Sam Hird (Doncaster), Terrell Forbes (Leyton Orient), Marc Richards (Port Vale), Richard O’Donnell (Sheffield Wednesday), Sam Togwell (Scunthorpe).
Out: Jamie Lowry (Plymouth), Simon Ford (Grimsby), Daniel Gray (Lincoln), Derek Niven (Grimsby), Aaron Downes (Torquay).
Verdict: “After the disappointment of relegation last season, we’ll be looking to bounce straight back. There’ll be nine or ten teams in contention but with the key singings we’ve made we’d hope to be up there.” (Chesterfield Post)
Dagenham & Redbridge
Manager: John Still
Ground: Victoria Road (6,078)
Last season: 19th
Nickname: The Daggers
Star man: Michael Spillane
In: Gavin Hoyte (Arsenal).
Out: Richard Rose, Oluwafemi Ilesanmi, Mark Arber, Damien McCrory (Burton), Peter Gain, Jon Nurse (Barnet), Phil Walsh, Jonjo Bates, Lee Wootton, Ahmed Abdulla (Barnet), Gavin Tomlin (Southend).
Verdict: “With the balance of young players and those who have
signed up on long term contracts, we’ve made the foundations for what should be a successful season. We should be looking at getting into the play-offs.” (Barking and Dagenham Post)
Manager: Paul Tisdale
Ground: St James Park (capacity 8,541)
Last season: 23rd in League One
Nickname: The Grecians
Star man: Alan Gow
In: Rhys Evans (Staines Town), Arron Davies (Northampton), Pat Baldwin (Southend), Kevin Amankwaah (Rochdale), Tommy Doherty (Bath), Craig Woodman (Brentford), Matt Oakley (Leicester), Jamie Cureton (Leyton Orient).
Out: James Dunne (Stevenage), Richard Logan (Wycombe), David Noble (Rotherham), Lenny Pidgeley, Chris Shephard, Callum McNish (Braintree), Daniel Nardiello (Rotherham), Luke O’Brien, Sean Goss (Manchester United), Troy Archibald-Henville (Swindon), Richard Duffy (Port Vale), Billy Jones (Cheltenham).
Verdict: “The team is shaping up well after the disappointment of last season. We’ve got a strong starting line up which we’ll look to add experience to in the coming weeks. Should be play-offs at least.”
(Exeter Express and Echo)
Manager: Micky Mellon
Ground: Highbury Stadium (capacity 5,663)
Last season: 1st in Blue Square Bet Premier
Nickname: The Trawlermen
Star man: Damian Johnson
In: Steven Gillespie (Colchester), Jon Parkin (Cardiff), Damien Johnson (Plymouth), Dean Howell (Crawley), Chris Maxwell (Wrexham), Alex Titchiner (Witton Albion), Youl Mawene (Aberdeen), David Ball (Peterborough), Conor McLaughlin (Preston), Barry Nicholson (Preston)
Out: Peter Cavanagh (Rochdale), Matt Flynn (Barrow), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Magno Vieira (Forest Green), Dave Stevenson, Gareth Seddon, Paul Linwood, Matty Hughes, Sean Clancy, Paul Edwards, Jack Duggan, Kieran Charnock (Macclesfield - six-month loan), Keith Briggs (Kidderminster), Peter Till (Tamworth).
Verdict: “The aim is promotion. After six in nine years, the financial backing and nine new signings, we have to be confident. History suggests that teams that win the Conference tend to have an excellent first year, we’ll be hoping this rings true for the Trawelermen.” (Blackpool Gazette)
Manager: Martin Allen
Ground: Priestfield Stadium (11,582)
Last season: 8th
Nickname: The Gills
Star man: Charlie Lee
In: Tom Flanagan (MK Dons – six-month loan), Ben Strevens (Wycombe), Stuart Nelson (Notts County), Charlie Allen (Notts County), Deon Burton (Gabala).
Out: Danny Spiller (Luton), Simon King (Inverness), Garry Richards, Jo Kuffour, Matt Lawrence, Dennis Oli, Curtis Weston, Dean Rance (Dover), Barry Fuller, Paulo Gazzaniga (Southampton).
Verdict: “If Martin Allen brings in the men he wants then they can be serious promotion contenders. He has been keeping his targets close to his chest but he is looking at some top quality players at this level and it could all depend on what the next few weeks brings up.” (Medway News)
Manager: Jim Bentley
Ground: Globe Arena (6,476)
Last season: 15th
Nickname: The Shrimps
Star man: Richard Brodie
In: Andrew Wright (Scunthorpe), Robbie Threlfall (Bradford), Richard Brodie (Crawley – six-month loan).
Out: Laurence Wilson (Rotherham), Garry Hunter, Niall Cowperthwaite, Sean Breen, Joe Calshaw, Charlie Joyce (Southport).
Verdict: “There’s a fair bit riding on Richard Brodie. He’s been given the number ten shirt and we have struggled for goals in pre-season so everyone is looking towards him. It’s a tight squad, the budget has been knocked back a bit and they could struggle. Mid-table might be the best that can be hoped for.” (The Visitor, Morecambe)
Manager: Aidy Boothroyd
Ground: Sixfields Stadium (capacity 7,653)
Last season: 20th
Nickname: The Cobblers
Star man: Clive Platt
In: Alex Nicholls (Walsall), Clive Platt (Coventry), Chris Hackett (Millwall), Ishmel Demontagnac (Notts County), Joe Widdowson (Rochdale), Lee Nicholls (Wigan – loan).
Out: Lewis Young, Jason Crowe (Corby), Andy Holt (Corby), Nathaniel Wedderburn, Ryan Gilligan, Michael Built, Freddy Hall, Tadhg Purcell, Arron Davies (Exeter), Byron Webster (Yeovil), Michael Jacobs (Derby), Neal Kitson.
Verdict: “After struggling for the last two years, Cobblers fans won’t be setting their sights too high. However, depending on how quickly the new signings gel, we should at least be making the top ten and possibly the play-offs.” (Northampton Chronicle and Echo)
Manager: Chris Wilder
Ground: Kassam Stadium (capacity 12,500)
Last season: 9th
Nickname: The Us
Star man: Jake Forster-Caskell
In: Sean Rigg (Port Vale), Jake Forster-Caskey (Brighton – loan), Michael Raynes (Rotherham), Lee Cox (Swindon – six-month loan).
Out: Asa Hall (Shrewsbury), Mark Wilson, Oli Johnson (York), Aaron Woodley, Paul McClaren, Anthony Tonkin (Aldershot).
Verdict: “Just like the last couple of seasons, United will be there or thereabouts. To challenge we will have to see more activity in the
transfer market.” (Oxford Mail)
Manager: Carl Fletcher
Ground: Home Park (capacity 16,388)
Last season: 21st
Nickname: The Pilgrims
Star man: Darren Purse
In: Paris Cowan-Hall (Woking), Rene Gilmartin (Watford), Jamie Lowry (Chesterfield), Rhys Griffiths (Port Talbot), Johnny Gorman (Wolves – loan).
Out: Damien Johnson (Fleetwood), Carl Fletcher (retired), Romain Larrieu (retired), Luke Daley, Simon Walton (Hartlepool).
Verdict: “We avoided relegation by one point last term, so any improvement on that will be seen as a bonus. Hopefully the problems off the field can be resolved and we can have a comfortable mid-table finish.” (Plymouth Herald)
Manager: Micky Adams
Ground: Vale Park
Last season: 12th (capacity 19,052)
Nickname: The Valiants
Star man: Doug Loft
In: Jennison Myrie-Williams (Stevenage), Ashley Vincent (Stevenage), Darren Murphy (Colchester), Richard Duffy (Exeter), Chris Neal (Shrewsbury), David Artell (Crewe).
Out: Anthony Griffith (Leyton Orient), Sean Rigg (Oxford), Marc Richards (Chesterfield), Chris Martin, Phil Roe, Paul Marshall.
Verdict: “The club is still in administration awaiting a takeover going through. A lot of lads have been brought in but we are looking at the top half. A top ten finish would be decent for them.” (The Sentinel)
Manager: John Coleman
Ground: Spotland (capacity 10,249)
Last season: 24th in League One
Nickname: The Dale
Star man: Jason Kennedy
In: George Donnelly (Macclesfield), Peter Cavanagh (Fleetwood), Rhys Bennett (Bolton), Josh Lillis (Scunthorpe), Kevin McIntyre (Accrington), Joe Rafferty (Liverpool), Ryan Edwards (Blackburn - loan), Matty Pearson (Blackburn), Phil Edwards (Stevenage).
Out: Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro (Tranmere), Gary Jones (Bradford), Dean Holden, Dave Lucas, Joe Widdowson (Northampton), Kevin Amankwaah (Exeter), Marcus Holness (Burton), Joe Thompson (Tranmere), Jordan Faghoma (Stockport), Stephen Jordan.
Verdict: “I’d expect Rochdale to be challenging for promotion next year. Perhaps the plays offs rather than automatic promotion as, due to the wholesale changes at the club, there will be a bedding in period.” (Rochdale Observer)
Manager: Steve Evans
Ground: New York Stadium (capacity 12,021)
Last season: 10th
Nickname: The Millers
Star man: Kari Arnason
In: Laurence Wilson (Morecambe), Scott Shearer (Crawley), Ian Sharps (Shrewsbury), Nicky Hunt (Preston), Kari Arnason (Aberdeen), Michael O’Connor (Scunthorpe), Lionel Ainsworth (Shrewsbury), Daniel Nardiello (Exeter), Kayode Odejayi (Colchester), David Noble (Exeter), Kieran Agard (Yeovil).
Out: Troy Brown (Aldershot), Danny Harrison (Tranmere), Lewis Grabban (Bournemouth), Michael Raynes (Oxford), Tom Newey, Richard Naylor, Luke Foster, Marcus Marshall, Ollie Banks, Paul Warne, Ryan Cresswell (Southend).
Verdict: “There’s a real sense of optimism at the moment with our new £20 million stadium and the intake of new signings in double figures. With this momentum we should be looking at finishing in the top three.” (Rotherham Advertiser)
Manager: Paul Sturrock
Ground: Roots Hall
Last season: 4th (12,392)
Nickname: The Shrimpers
Star man: Ryan Hall
In: Kevan Hurst (Walsall), Anthony Straker (Aldershot), Gavin Tomlin (Dagenham), Ryan Cresswell (Rotherham), Freddy Eastwood (Coventry).
Out: Anthony Grant (Stevenage), Pat Baldwin (Exeter).
Verdict: “After a hugely disappointing ending to last season in which we didn’t get promoted despite a club record 83 points, we will be hoping for success this season. If returning Freddy Eastwood can recapture his form of old, we could be onto a winner.” (Southend Echo)
Manager: Martin Ling
Ground: Plainmoor (6,104)
Last season: 5th
Nickname: The Gulls
Star man: Rene Howe
In: Ryan Jarvis (Walsall), Billy Bodin (Swindon), Tom Cruise (Arsenal), Michael Poke (Brighton), Craig Easton (Dunfermline), Aaron Downes (Chesterfield).
Out: Bobby Olejnik (Peterborough), Taiwo Atieno, Ed Palmer, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner (Luton), Mark Ellis (Crewe), Chris McPhee (Salisbury), Eunan O’Kane (Bournemouth).
Verdict: “Two successive seasons in the play-offs have been followed by unsuccessful performances in the play-offs. There is a feeling at Plainmoor that we need to up the ante in order to go one better.” (Herald Express)
Manager: Gary Waddock
Ground: Adams Park (10,284)
Last season: 21st in League One
Nickname: The Chairboys
Star man: Richard Bevan
In: Richard Logan (Exeter), Gary Doherty (Charlton), Matthew Spring (Leyton Orient), Sam Wood (Brentford), Dennis Oli (Gillingham), Lee Agnol.
Out: Scott Rendell (Luton), Steve Arnold (Stevenage), Ben Strevens (Gillingham), Anthony McNamee, Jason Mooney, John Halls, James Tunnicliffe.
Verdict: “There is an optimistic feel around the club with the takeover by the supporters trust having gone through. Due to the transfer embargo we missed out on a few players but have since bought six new ones in, including former Spurs man Gary Doherty.” (Wycombe Star)