Football is back and the Championship is underway, with England’s second tier as competitive as ever this season.
The weak nature of the sides relegated from the Premier League last year means promotion is anyones game, with Middlesbrough the only obvious choice for promotion this year.
There are a plethora of clubs who will see themselves as promotion candidates, some after last year’s strong campaign such as Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham.
Others have had a summer of heavy rebuilding with plenty of cash spent, like Aston Villa, Norwich City and Leeds United, whilst others are backed by big cash, like Wolves.
But if there’s one thing the Championship is renowned for, it’s surprises, and last season was a perfect example of how some clubs can come out of nowhere to compete, like Huddersfield.
So here are three Championship sides who should be considered dark horses for a shock promotion to the Premier League….
Everyone’s favourite dark horse this year, Brentford appear to have stumbled across an extremely strong squad, with talented players in every department.
The sale of Scott Hogan last January only strengthened them, and the return of Jota completed an incredibly talented midfield and strike force, with Lasse Vibe turning on the goals in the second half of the season.
It looks as though they will keep hold of their star players, and have added other impressive names such as Neil Maupay and Kamohelo Mokotjo, who could catapult and extremely strong Bees side into the play offs.
You would have presumed a few weeks into last season that if I was talking about Cardiff and promotion in the 2017/18 season it would have been from League One, but Neil Warnock, as ever, has worked his magic on the Bluebirds.
Warnock could be the main driving force behind a potentially strong campaign as he chases a record eighth promotion, and his made some good signings over the summer that could help them back to the Premier League.
They’ve also kept striker Kenneth Zohore who turned on the goals at the end of last season, and along with impressive signings like Lee Tomlin and Colin Paterson, they could sneak their way into the top six this year.
Preston North End
For some reason unbeknown to me, Preston are always tipped for relegation despite having a very decent squad and being one of the best ran clubs in the country.
Their outlay is low but their finishes are high, and perhaps Simon Grayson took them as far as he could. Alex Neil is a fine appointment for them, and could be the man to finally break that play off barrier.
A look to their squad and there are some decent names. Ben Pearson is a fine midfielder, whilst their signings from Ireland, Andy Boyle, Seaen Maguire and Daryl Horgan, are all very decent players.
Do not write off Preston.