Championship outfit Derby County are likely to go into the 2017/18 campaign as one of the favourites for promotion to the Premier League.
The Rams were in that position last summer when Nigel Pearson took over the reins at the iPro Stadium, but he lasted just a few months in the job before being succeeded by Steve McClaren, who was also removed from his position during the campaign.
And former Birmingham boss Gary Rowett will be handed the task of trying to lead the East Midlands side back to the promised land next season, and with a few games under his belt and a full summer to come, expectations will be high that Derby can finally end their wait for top-flight football.
And those expectations have gone up a notch again today as the club have confirmed the signing of Hull City defender Curtis Davies on a two-year contract.
The 32-year-old was unable to keep the Tigers in the Premier League last season, and his move to iPro Stadium may well give Rowett the missing piece of the jigsaw ahead of the new campaign.
And that’s because, not only is Davies an excellent centre-back, but he is an experienced professional who has been there and done it in this division.
The defender’s first taste of Championship action came all the way back in 2005 with Luton Town, before spending time in both the top tier and second tier with West Brom in the succeeding years.
And with spells at Leicester, Birmingham, and more recently Hull City, Davies has a vast amount of Championship experience to draw upon, 172 games worth in fact, yet it’s not just general experience, it’s also promotion-winning experience.
Cast your minds back to the 2015/16 campaign, and you’ll remember Davies being a crucial part of Steve Bruce’s Hull side which won promotion via the play-offs, starting 37 of their 46 league matches, and then all three in their play-off campaign.
In fact, Davies was one of the best players in the division that season in helping the Tigers return to the promised land, and if he can have that sort of effect at Derby in the coming season, they surely won’t be too far away either.
And that could be the missing piece of the jigsaw, as the 32-year-old is both a quality addition to the team, and indeed possesses the know-how to help the club negotiate those tricky times near the end of the campaign, given that he has captained a team through that before.
Rowett has pulled off quite a coup in bringing Davies to the iPro Stadium, a player who didn’t look too out of place in the Premier League last season, and the former Birmingham boss will be hoping that he’s lining up in the top-flight again in the near future with Derby.