With the Football League kick-off this weekend, this series of articles takes a closer look at the 24 teams vying for the £100 million Premier League bonanza.
Mick McCarthy demonstrated his pedigree in the second tier last season as his Ipswich side made significant strides and fell just short of the play-offs. Despite end of season disappointment, there was certainly a sense of the tide turning after seasons of despair at Portman Road.
More of the same will be a minimum expectation from the Tractor Boys this season, but Ipswich are another Championship club trying to stay out of Financial Fair Play trouble and there hasn’t been heavy investment to ensure the club can move on from near-miss to genuine promotion contenders.
The loss of Aaron Cresswell is a blow, but Jonathan Parr is an able and competent replacement. Cameron Stewart adds experience and depth while the return to fitness of David McGoldrick is a boost and McCarthy will be hoping his profitable partnership with Daryl Murphy last season can click once again.
McCarthy is a master of navigating the Championship and his teams will always be competitive. Expect Ipswich to be right up there in the mix, but a lack of depth in quality will probably mean they fall short once again.
Last Season: 9th
Manager: Mick McCarthy
Transfers In*: Bartosz Bialkowski (Notts County, undisclosed), Alex Henshall (Manchester City, free), Cameron Stewart (Hull, free), Jonathan Parr (Crystal Palace, free), Kevin Bru (Levski Sofia, free), Balint Bajner (Borussia Dortmund, free)
Transfers Out*: Aaron Cresswell (West Ham, undisclosed), Carlos Edwards (Millwall, free), Scott Loach (Rotherham, free), Frederic Veseli (Port Vale, loan), Sylvain Ebanks-Blake (released)
One To Watch: Alex Henshall (winger)
There aren’t any superstars or standout players in the Ipswich squad, but one player who could be worth watching is ex-Manchester City trainee Henshall.
The 20-year-old is a traditional British winger, a direct runner who enjoys attacking his opponent with the ball at his feet. He was once considered a bright talent at the Etihad, but as is usually the case at top clubs, the influx of global stars meant limited playing opportunities.
McCarthy obviously believes he has the talent and potential to be a success and don’t be surprised to see him throw Henshall in at the deep end. Henshall may not start the season in the first XI and he probably won’t start every game, but he has the potential to light up the play at Portman Road.
Selected Odds: Champions 25-1; Promotion 8-1; Relegation 12-1
Opening Fixtures: Fulham (H), Reading (A), Birmingham (A)
*correct at the time of writing