Sky Bet League 2 guide

  • By: Nick Hext
  • Last Updated: August 1 2013, 9:37 BST

The 2013/14 Sky Bet League 2 season begins with a full programme of matches on Saturday afternoon and we have a team-by-team guide for you to check out

  • Will Portsmouth fans be celebrating this season?
  • Fleetwood look set to challenge at the top. 
  • Oxford's swoop for Dave Kitson has attracted attention. 
  • New Accrington boss James Beattie has plenty of hard work ahead. 

All 24 clubs receive attention with a fan offering opinions on their own side and divisional rivals. The Sportinglife.com verdict is provided by Nick Hext with a finishing position predicted for every team.

There is agreement from League 2 supporters that Portsmouth - Sky Bet's 5/1 favourites for the title - will bounce straight back up. Fleetwood, Cheltenham and Chesterfield are rated by the fans as the sides most likely to join the Fratton Park outfit in securing promotion.

It looks like it will be four into two for the relegation places if you believe our panel with Accrington, AFC Wimbledon, Dagenham and Morecambe expected to endure a season of struggle.

Oxford's swoop for experienced striker Dave Kitson has caught the eye. The former Reading and Stoke forward is 18/1 with Sky Bet to finish the term as top goalscorer but other players are also tipped to make a big impact.

Enjoy our League 2 preview right now and get ready for the months ahead that await your club...


Click here for Sky Bet's League 2 markets


Accrington Stanley

Manager: James Beattie

Last season: 18th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 100/1, promotion 18/1, top-seven finish 8/1, top-half finish 9/1, bottom-half finish 1/33, relegation 9/2.

View from the stands - Dan Jewell

What are the expectations for your club this season? It's difficult to set any targets because of the changes over the summer. New manager James Beattie is very ambitious and will not settle for consolidation. He's putting together a team to challenge and we finished last season well to show potential is there. We could well be in the top half.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Young centre-half Tom Aldred signed a short-term deal at the end of last season and looked very solid. Hopefully his partnership with Rob Atkinson will make us strong in the centre of defence.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Accrington old boys Jimmy Ryan and Gary Roberts are back in League 2 with Chesterfield. We would love them back if money was no object!

Who will win promotion? Chesterfield, Portsmouth, Cheltenham and let's put Accrington in there.

Who will be relegated? It's very difficult to answer this until the season has started but on previous evidence I'll say AFC Wimbledon will struggle and maybe Mansfield and Newport as the two newly-promoted sides.

Our verdict: 20th James Beattie is taking his managerial bow and the squad at his disposal will see another finish just outside the relegation zone secured.


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AFC Wimbledon

Manager: Neal Ardley

Last season: 20th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 80/1, promotion 14/1, top-seven finish 7/1, top-half finish 7/2, bottom-half finish 1/6, relegation 11/2.

View from the stands - Ray Armfield

What are the expectations for your club this season? Hopefully not relegation trouble. We are not over expectant with a nice, safe mid-table finish and a cup run the aim.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Peter Sweeney isn't a household name but can impress. He joined us last season but suffered a Beckhamlike metatarsal injury to end his campaign. He's now fully fit and brings both silk and steel to the midfield.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Jon Meades at Oxford. He was on loan to us last season from Bournemouth and picked up our Young Player of the Season award. It would have been great if we'd kept him.

Who will win promotion? Chesterfield, Fleetwood, Portsmouth and Oxford via the play-offs.

Who will be relegated? Hopefully not us. Maybe Accrington and Morecambe.

Our verdict: 18th The Dons can push on a little bit this term with Neal Ardley having a full pre-season to get his plans in place.


Click here for Sky Bet's AFC Wimbledon specials


Bristol Rovers

Manager: John Ward

Last season: 14th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 16/1, promotion 7/2, top-seven finish 6/4, top-half finish 2/9, bottom-half finish 16/5, relegation 22/1.

View from the stands - Nathan Bees

What are the expectations for your club this season? We tend not to do expectations at Rovers because all too often we're left feeling hugely disappointed. This year, however, we find ourselves in the unfamiliar position where we are all very happy with our management team, happy with the playing squad and absolutely delighted to have secured planning permission to build a new 21,700 all-seater stadium. There is optimism for the future and the hope is that we can improve on our impressive second half to last season under John Ward. If we can replicate the form we showed and produce it over the course of a full year then we will go up. I would say we're hopeful but not expectant - we don't want to heap unnecessary pressure on our young squad.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? The potential is there within the squad for several players to push on this season but defender Tom Parkes is definitely the one to watch. He's just 21 and was given the responsibility of captaincy back in January when we were struggling at the wrong end of the division. For many young players it would all have been too much but Tom thrived in the role and established himself as our clear player of the year. He's very strong and for a central defender to possess the technical ability that he has is very rare, particularly in League 2. The boy will go far and hopefully it will be with us.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? It wouldn't surprise me to see Ricky Holmes enjoy a good year for Pompey as he's the type of player who will flourish in an attacking team. My tip for player to watch in League 2 though is Ashley Grimes of Bury. I think everything is in place for him to hit some form with the Shakers. He's put injuries behind him and he will be the focal point to everything Bury do going forward, much like he was when he finished as top goalscorer for Lincoln City a few years ago. I have a feeling he'll be in the top scorer charts once again this year.

Who will win promotion? It never seems to be the obvious candidates who go on to get promoted but I'll plump for Portsmouth, Chesterfield, Fleetwood Town and Bury regardless.

Who will be relegated? Accrington Stanley and Dagenham & Redbridge seem the most likely to drop judging by their far from impressive recruitment drives this pre-season.

Our verdict: Fourth (play-offs) John Ward did a superb job to take the Pirates away from relegation trouble last season and that momentum can now continue with a spot in the play-offs.


Click here for Sky Bet's Bristol Rovers specials


Burton Albion

Manager: Gary Rowett

Last season: Fourth

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 25/1, promotion 11/2, top-seven finish 5/2, top-half finish 8/13, bottom-half finish 6/5, relegation 14/1.

View from the stands - Liam Eaton

What are the expectations for your club this season? We could well turn into a strong contender for the play-offs.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Billy Kee. If he stays fully fit I am sure he'll finish as one of the top goalscorers in the league.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Jamie Cureton of Cheltenham. A real dangerman.

Who will win promotion? Portsmouth, Cheltenham, Exeter and Fleetwood.

Who will be relegated? AFC Wimbledon and York.

Our verdict: Seventh (play-off winners) The exits of Jacques Maghoma and Calvin Zola are big blows but signing Rene Howe and Rory Delap shows the Brewers still mean business.


Click here for Sky Bet's Burton specials


Bury

Manager: Kevin Blackwell

Last season: 22nd in League 1 (relegated)

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 40/1, promotion 7/1, top-seven finish 4/1, top-half finish 15/8, bottom-half finish 2/5, relegation 8/1.

View from the stands - Dave Giffard

What are the expectations for your club this season? It's a bit of an unknown as we have new owners and manager Kevin Blackwell is building a new team from scratch. At the moment it's looking very promising with all the signings.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Again, it's hard to say as we have so many new players but I think Ashley Grimes will be up with the leading goal scorers.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Former Bury captain Steven Schumacher looks to be a good signing for Fleetwood and his shooting ability from long range will catch some teams out.

Who will win promotion? Portsmouth, Wycombe, Bury and Fleetwood.

Who will be relegated? Burton Albion and Newport County.

Our verdict: 13th There are so many changes at Gigg Lane that it's hard to tell just how this campaign will go. Ashley Grimes is a good acquisition and will help the Shakers stay away from any trouble.


Click here for Sky Bet's Bury specials


Cheltenham Town

Manager: Mark Yates

Last season: Fifth

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 20/1, promotion 9/2, top-seven finish 15/8, top-half finish 2/7, bottom-half finish 13/5, relegation 16/1.

View from the stands - Will Edden

What are the expectations for your club this season? After losing out in the play-offs in both of the past two seasons, expectations at Cheltenham Town are high. Most fans expect this squad to be again challenging for promotion.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Jermaine McGlashan started last season in electric form but slowly dipped as the campaign went on. More is expected from him this time around. Much is also expected of new signing Jamie Cureton who hit 21 league goals for Exeter last year.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? I'll be interested to see if Dave Kitson can recapture his goalscoring touch at Oxford - and Burton Albion new boy Rory Delap should also be one to watch!

Who will win promotion? Portsmouth, Southend, Chesterfield and Cheltenham.

Who will be relegated? Accrington Stanley and York City.

Our verdict: Second (automatic promotion) The departure of star midfielder Marlon Pack is a blow but experienced forward Jamie Cureton and other quality additions have the quality to take the Robins from a play-off spot to the top three.


Click here for Sky Bet's Cheltenham specials


Chesterfield

Manager: Paul Cook

Last season: Eighth

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 8/1, promotion 7/4, top-seven finish 4/5, top-half finish 1/16, bottom-half finish 8/1, relegation 40/1.

View from the stands - Luke Ingram

What are the expectations for your club this season? Champions. We have a very decent squad, the manager and staff in place so confidence is high in the club that top spot is possible.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Gary Roberts' arrival has excited the fans. Marc Richards up front, Liam Cooper at the back and fan favourite Tommy Lee in goal should also be watched.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Matty Blair at Fleetwood can impress after joining from York.

Who will win promotion? Chesterfield will be top. Portsmouth, Scunthorpe and Bristol Rovers will also go up.

Who will be relegated? Mansfield - our local rivals - and Morecambe.

Our verdict: Third (automatic promotion) The pieces are firmly in place for Paul Cook to take Chesterfield to promotion. The signing of Jimmy Ryan in particular catches the eye.


Click here for Sky Bet's Chesterfield specials


Dagenham & Redbridge

Manager: Wayne Burnett

Last season: 22nd

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 100/1, promotion 18/1, top-seven finish 8/1, top-half finish 9/1, bottom-half finish 1/33, relegation 9/2.

View from the stands - Colin Munford

What are the expectations for your club this season? After narrowly surviving the drop back to the Conference for the last two seasons, the aim will be to make sure of their place in the Football League once again, but if some of the youngsters fulfil some of their potential a push towards mid-table will not be out of the question. This will be manager Wayne Burnett's first full season in Football League management, so many will be keeping an eye on how he gets on.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Luke Wilkinson - Last season's Player of the Year will need to reproduce his best form once again at the heart of the Daggers defence if they are to have a good season.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Dave Kitson - It was interesting to see him move down to League 2 football and will undoubtedly carry a lot the U's pressure to score goals. Undoubtedly has the talent and apparently turned down moves from higher up the leagues to sign for Chris Wilder's side.

Who will win promotion? Fleetwood Town, Northampton, Scunthorpe United and Bury.

Who will be relegated? Accrington Stanley and Morecambe.

Our verdict: 24th (relegated) The John Still era is over at Dagenham and the loss of the club's biggest asset sees a return to non-league football on the horizon.


Click here for Sky Bet's Dagenham specials


Exeter City

Manager: Paul Tisdale

Last season: 10th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 40/1, promotion 7/1, top-seven finish 4/1, top-half finish 2/1, bottom-half finish 4/11, relegation 10/1.

View from the stands - Alan of Exeter Exiles

What are the expectations for your club this season? Nobody knows. We looked excellent at times last season, but almost all our best performances were away from home which meant the majority of City fans had a pretty grumpy season. Factor in an appalling end to the season and the loss of vintage goal machine Jamie Cureton and we Grecians are all over the place. Perhaps mid-table?

Which player from your club should we watch out for? All-action midfielder Liam Sercombe has been one to watch for a while and exciting young winger Jake Gosling could be very good indeed.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Jamie Cureton at Cheltenham, bless him.

Who will win promotion? One of last season's play-off chokers. One of the newly promoted Conference sides. One of the clubs just relegated from League 1. And, dramatically one of the three Devon clubs...

Who will be relegated? The prospect is so horrible that it seems mean to even speculate. It's a bit like asking which veteran actor will be next to die.

Our verdict: 22nd Jamie Cureton's departure is a huge blow and this looks like a season of nailbiting at the wrong end of the table for Exeter fans.


Click here for Sky Bet's Exeter specials


Fleetwood Town

Manager: Graham Alexander

Last season: 13th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 8/1, promotion 15/8, top-seven finish 5/6, top-half finish 1/16, bottom-half finish 8/1, relegation 40/1.

View from the stands - David Mitchell

What are the expectations for your club this season? It depends who you talk to but the aim is to go up. We have brought well and the extra experience from last season will help. The ambition is certainly promotion.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Several big-name signings have been made. Steven Schumacher has been Bury's player of the season and the excellent Mark Roberts will help the defence.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? I'm concentrating on our own game but Jamie Cureton will get goals for Cheltenham.

Who will win promotion? Fleetwood, Portsmouth, Cheltenham and Northampton.

Who will be relegated? It was a dogfight last year and will be close again this time. I can't pick out the unfortunate sides but it will be tense and exciting if it goes to the wire again.

Our verdict: Champions Defender Mark Roberts heads a squad full of experience and talent. Expect the Cod Army to reach the third tier of English football for the first time.


Click here for Sky Bet's Fleetwood specials


Hartlepool United

Manager: Colin Cooper

Last season: 23rd in League 1 (relegated)

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 22/1, promotion 9/2, top-seven finish 15/8, top-half finish 30/100, bottom-half finish 12/5, relegation 16/1.

View from the stands - Phil Dunne

What are the expectations for your club this season? It's a bit of a rebuilding programme for us at the moment. Experienced players have gone and Ritchie Humphreys will certainly be missed. Mid-table or an outside push for the play-offs is expected.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Luke James is definitely one to watch. He's only a young lad, small but with a big heart. There is much more to come as his career develops.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Club legend Ritchie Humphreys is now at Chesterfield. You can be sure he will come back and impress against his former club.

Who will win promotion? Fleetwood, Plymouth, Rochdale and Portsmouth.

Who will be relegated? York and Exeter.

Our verdict: 19th Colin Cooper is the latest man to take charge of Hartlepool and there is plenty of work needed to avoid anything other than more woe.


Click here for Sky Bet's Hartlepool specials


Mansfield Town

Manager: Paul Cox

Last season: Conference National champions (promoted)

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 28/1, promotion 11/2, top-seven finish 5/2, top-half finish 10/11, bottom-half finish 4/5, relegation 11/1.

View from the stands - Matt Stead

What are the expectations for your club this season? My expectation for the club this season is to simply consolidate our position in the Football League. We've worked hard for five years rebuilding the club from top to bottom and finally reaped the rewards last season, so survival is the number one aim. Despite a lack of league experience I believe our manager, Paul Cox, will adapt to life excellently in the higher leagues and his determination and organisation will stand us in good stead, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a mid-table finish.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Sam Clucas, one of our new summer signings, is certainly one to watch out for. Having signed from non-league Hereford in early June, Clucas has already impressed massively so far in the pre-season. Two goals against Peterborough in a 4-2 victory thrust him onto the scene in the East Midlands, and despite Mansfield's 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest in a friendly, Clucas caught the eye of manager Billy Davies. So much so in fact, that, only a month after Mansfield secured the 22 year-old winger's signature, Forest were reportedly keen to test their resolve in keeping him. Expect plenty of goals and assists from the former Leicester City youngster.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Though it pains me to say it, Stags' bitter rivals Chesterfield could well have a midfield diamond in the rough in the form of young Sam Morsy. Although he won't be a renowned talent, the former Wolves youngster could be key to the Spireites' promotion ambitions this season. His 28 appearances for Port Vale last season persuaded Chesterfield boss Paul Cook to snap him up this summer, and the midfielder's aggression is far outweighed by his ability as an old-fashioned midfield enforcer. Adding plenty more bite to the Chesterfield midfield, look out for Morsy to make an impact this season.

Who will win promotion? Fleetwood, Cheltenham, Bristol Rovers and Chesterfield.

Who will be relegated? Accrington and Dagenham & Redbridge.

Our verdict: 15th Last season's Conference champions will easily stay up but the loss of top striker Matt Green makes anything more a tough ask.


Click here for Sky Bet's Mansfield specials


Morecambe

Manager: Jim Bentley

Last season: 16th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 100/1, promotion 16/1, top-seven finish 7/1, top-half finish 8/1, bottom-half finish 1/25, relegation 5/1.

View from the stands - Oliver Roby

What are the expectations for your club this season? After finishing 15th and 16th in the last two seasons, an upturn in fortunes would be useful for the Shrimps. With some young and exciting additions to the squad, a play-off push could be possible. However, a top half finish this term would be viewed as a success.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Personally, I feel new defender Tony Diagne is one to watch this season. Morecambe's first ever French player was on the books of Nottingham Forest and is only 22, but has played a good amount of first-team football already. He has been impressive in pre-season outings so far, including a strong performance in a 1-0 win over Burnley. Also, Morecambe's youngest ever debutant, 16-year-old full-back Aaron McGowan, could be one to look out for if he gets a chance with the first team.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? I think Jeff Hughes could be a player who is worth looking out for after signing for Fleetwood. He rejected a contract from Notts County to make the move possible, despite performing well in League 1 last season, scoring goals and making a good amount of assists. His versatility should help him do well in League 2 football.

Who will win promotion? Fleetwood could go up as champions with the high quality signings they are making, Portsmouth have made some good signings and could finish as runners-up if they can stay financially stable, Burton Albion have recruited well so could go up automatically too and Oxford United may go up as play-off winners, thanks to some strong signings such as Dave Kitson.

Who will be relegated? The relegation battle in League 2 is always close, but in my view, Dagenham and Redbridge and newly-promoted Newport County could go down.

Our verdict: 23rd (relegated) Jim Bentley has done a great job during his time in charge to keep Morecambe away from trouble but that may well prove to be too big a task this time.


Click here for Sky Bet's Morecambe specials


Newport County

Manager: Justin Edinburgh

Last season: Third in the Conference National (promoted via the play-offs)

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 50/1, promotion 9/1, top-seven finish 9/2, top-half finish 100/30, bottom-half finish 1/5, relegation 13/2.

View from the stands - Luke Robins

What are the expectations for your club this season? I can see us finishing around 10th. The reason behind this is there doesn't seem to be that much difference between League 2 and the Conference.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Christian Jolley. The lad can turn a game on it's head in a blink of an eye.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Tom Craddock, he is a proven goalscorer at this level and will take some beating to this season's Golden Boot.

Who will win promotion? Portsmouth, Chesterfield, Rochdale and Scunthorpe.

Who will be relegated? Dagenham & Redbridge and Morecambe.

Our verdict: 21st Conference play-offs winners AFC Wimbledon and York have struggled in the last couple of seasons and that trend will continue with Newport just about maintaining their Football League status.


Click here for Sky Bet's Newport specials


Northampton Town

Manager: Aidy Boothroyd

Last season: Sixth

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 22/1, promotion 4/1, top-seven finish 7/4, top-half finish 30/100, bottom-half finish 1/5, relegation 20/1.

View from the stands - James Averill

What are the expectations for your club this season? We probably exceeded our own expectations last year by reaching the play-off final at Wembley. Needless to say though, achieving that will raise expectations this year. Aidy Boothroyd has done a tremendous job so far in his time at the club, and I would imagine most fans will hope that we can challenge for the play-offs once again.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? We have an excellent young midfielder called Lewis Hornby. He has only just turned 18 but has nearly half a season of league football under his belt. His composure on the ball is far beyond his years, and seeing him give the ball away is quite a rare occurrence. While he may not play all 46 games, we're hoping this will be a big year for him.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? I've been very impressed with Cheltenham's signings, and I think Ashley Vincent is one who can cause problems.

Who will win promotion? Cheltenham, Portsmouth, Bury and Rochdale.

Who will be relegated? AFC Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley.

Our verdict: 11th Last season's play-off final defeat against Bradford was a major disappointment. Expect a slow start from the altered Cobblers before a late push.


Click here for Sky Bet's Northampton specials


Oxford United

Manager: Chris Wilder

Last season: Ninth

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 22/1, promotion 4/1, top-seven finish 7/4, top-half finish 30/100, bottom-half finish 12/5, relegation 20/1.

View from the stands - Mark Sennett of Oxvox

What are the expectations for your club this season? Oxford fans were quite frustrated last season as the target was promotion and we fell short. We've seen big changes to the squad, which has seen injury-prone big earners leave and replaced by more robust players. So once again the aim will be promotion with another aim of keeping our players out of the treatment room!

Which player from your club should we watch out for? That's an easy one to answer Dave Kitson! He's been the marquee signing for us this summer and will hopefully prove to be the targetman and goalscorer U's fans have been praying for since we returned to the Football League.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Jimmy Ryan at Chesterfield. He was wonderfully skilful when he played against us for Accrington Stanley a couple of years ago. Without doubt he's one of the best on the ball at this level. A shrewd signing by the Spireites.

Who will win promotion? Chesterfield, Fleetwood, Bristol Rovers and Cheltenham.

Who will be relegated? Accrington and AFC Wimbledon.

Our verdict: Sixth (play-offs) Oxford haven't been too far away from the play-offs in the last couple of seasons and the addition of Dave Kitson will see them among the promotion hopefuls.


Click here for Sky Bet's Oxford specials


Plymouth Argyle

Manager: John Sheridan

Last season: 21st

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 33/1, promotion 13/2, top-seven finish 4/1, top-half finish 11/10, bottom-half finish 4/6, relegation 10/1.

View from the stands - Jon Holmes

What are the expectations for your club this season? After coming so close to getting relegated out of the Football League in each of the last two seasons, Argyle fans understandably have low expectations overall but are encouraged by John Sheridan's professionalism and transfer activity. We're arguably the second biggest club in the division after Portsmouth and although we realise that counts for very little in terms of results, the Green Army is hopeful that the dark days may now be finally behind us.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Argentinian attacking midfielder Andres Gurrieri grew in confidence as last season went on and offers some genuine flair which is much needed in what can often look a workmanlike team. He's been handed another one-year deal and with Sheridan geeing him along, I think he's got the right focus now to make something of his ability.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? I was hugely impressed by the contributions winger Ricky Holmes (no relation) made to a struggling Barnet side before injury struck in February last season - witness his hat-trick against high-flying Burton in December. He's full of tricks and Portsmouth did well to snap him up as higher division clubs were keen to sign him too.

Who will win promotion? Fleetwood, Burton, Portsmouth, Oxford.

Who will be relegated? Bury, Dagenham.

Our verdict: 16th Plymouth are one of the biggest clubs in League 2 but this division hasn't been to their liking in the last couple of seasons. Improvement will come under John Sheridan's guidance but it will take time.


Click here for Sky Bet's Plymouth specials


Portsmouth

Manager: Guy Whittingham

Last season: 24th in League 1 (relegated)

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 5/1, promotion 5/6, top-seven finish 1/5, top-half finish 1/25, bottom-half finish 11/1, relegation 40/1.

View from the stands - Tayler Willson

What are the expectations for your club this season? A new season also starts with a new era for Portsmouth Football Club following the completion of the fans' takeover and this undoubtedly comes with expectation. After selling 10,000 season tickets, Guy Whittingham's side will have an impressive following home and away. Pompey will be and should be pushing for promotion and fans fully expect to challenge for the play-offs at the very least.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Romain Padovani, a summer recruit from French side AS Monaco, will be the one to watch in Portsmouth's new-look side. The 23-year-old, who plays defensive midfield, has had an impressive pre-season and Pompey boss Guy Whittingham couldn't speak more highly of the youngster. Padovani has shown he is a technically gifted passer of the ball and the Frenchman could be key to a successful season for the South Coast club.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Former Portsmouth striker Dave Kitson has signed for Oxford United following his release from Sheffield United. The 33-year-old, who scored 12 times in 68 appearances whilst at Fratton Park, still has an eye for goal and his class should be obvious in League 2.

Who will win promotion? Fleetwood, Portsmouth, Scunthorpe and Cheltenham.

Who will be relegated? Mansfield and AFC Wimbledon.

Our verdict: Eighth Pompey are the hardest side in the entire Football League to judge with the plethora of changes at Fratton Park over the summer. A promotion push is possible with the backing of the club's huge support but could prove to be a step too far.


Click here for Sky Bet's Portsmouth specials


Rochdale

Manager: Keith Hill

Last season: 12th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 25/1, promotion 5/1, top-seven finish 9/4, top-half finish 4/6, bottom-half finish 11/10, relegation 18/1.

View from the stands - Mark Wilbraham

What are the expectations for your club this season? Improvement on last season and hopefully an assault on the play-offs. Also, the fans need to experience the feel-good-factor they had when Keith Hill was last in charge. We haven't enjoyed going to games for two years and that needs to be rediscovered.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? I'll plump for Ian Henderson. He was our marquee signing of the summer after playing for us from March after leaving Colchester. He had a habit of scoring against us in his Colchester days, so at least that's stopped!

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? To be honest I haven't taken a lot of notice so far of other clubs' recruits. I suppose Dave Kitson at Oxford stands out, while Gary Roberts, who has joined Chesterfield, has always impressed against Dale in the past.

Who will win promotion? I'm hopeless at predictions, but I'll have a go at Chesterfield, Portsmouth, Bristol Rovers and Cheltenham.

Who will be relegated? Dagenham and Morecambe.

Our verdict: Ninth Dale could worry the more fancied promotion contenders. Keith Hill has tasted success at Spotland before and knows just what is required in League 2.


Click here for Sky Bet's Rochdale specials


Scunthorpe United

Manager: Brian Laws

Last season: 21st in League 1 (relegated)

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 16/1, promotion 7/2, top-seven finish 6/4, top-half finish 1/4, bottom-half finish 11/4, relegation 25/1.

View from the stands - Andrew Skeels

What are the expectations for your club this season? To finish in the right half of the table for once and win more matches than we lose. The last four seasons have resulted in two relegations, one from the Championship and one from League 1, and two seasons of struggle to avoid relegation, so losing has become a habit. Brian Laws has been attempting to clear out some of the dead wood during the summer and it's to be hoped that we will at least be able to mount a reasonable challenge for the play-offs.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Matt Sparrow returns to Glanford Park three years after departing for Brighton and big things are expected from the midfielder who, still aged only 31, should be at the peak of his career. After making well over 300 appearances for the Iron in his previous 10-year stint with the club, he should form a solid centre midfield partnership with Michael Collins which Laws and the fans are hoping will be the foundation on which a promotion challenge can be built.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Dave Kitson has scored goals pretty much wherever he's gone in his career and should be a real handful for League 2 defenders now that he's dropped into the bottom division with Oxford. And ex-Iron star Jimmy Ryan, a talented and much under-rated midfielder, will shine for his new club Chesterfield.

Who will win promotion? Northampton, Chesterfield, Bristol Rovers and Cheltenham.

Who will be relegated? Accrington and AFC Wimbledon.

Our verdict: Fifth (play-offs) It has been a tough few seasons for the Iron as they dropped down the divisions but now is the time to get back on track with a promotion bid.


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Southend United

Manager: Phil Brown

Last season: 11th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 25/1, promotion 5/1, top-seven finish 9/4, top-half finish 4/6, bottom-half finish 11/10, relegation 14/1.

View from the stands - Terry Cockell

What are the expectations for your club this season? We've had a disjointed pre-season with a few injuries, using trialists etc not helped by one of our midfielders spending the summer in HMP Chelmsford! Realistically I think the best we can hope for is to reach the play-offs. We are still short of a few bodies - hopefully Phil Brown can use his contacts in the higher leagues to either unearth a gem or get some decent loan signings.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? We have hopes for several players this year. Up front we're hoping that a fully fit Freddie Eastwood will deliver more goals this season. Also Will Atkinson was part of a successful Bradford side last year.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? There have been a few interesting signings such as Rory Delap joining Burton and Dave Kitson at Oxford - but the one who caught my eye is Terry Gornell joining Cheltenham from Rochdale - he knows his way around this league and has been a consistent performer for the past couple of seasons.

Who will win promotion? Portsmouth, Scunthorpe, Oxford and Newport.

Who will be relegated? Accrington and Morecambe.

Our verdict: 12th It will be interesting to see how Phil Brown gets on in his first full season in charge of Southend. A mid-table finish is expected but a promotion charge wouldn't be the biggest shock.


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Torquay United

Manager: Alan Knill

Last season: 19th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 66/1, promotion 10/1, top-seven finish 9/2, top-half finish 4/1, bottom-half finish 1/7, relegation 6/1.

View from the stands - Jodie Allen

What are the expectations for your club this season? I think we will certainly do better than last year and after a traumatic second half to that campaign, we'd happily take mid-table mediocrity. There seems to be renewed determination in the squad and some of the new signings look interesting.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? This would probably surprise some Torquay fans but I feel young striker Ashley Yeoman could really come to the fore. He is a terrific finisher and always seems to get himself a chance.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Sido Jombati at Cheltenham always seems to play well against us. Even though he is a right-back, he bombs forward with incredible purpose.

Who will win promotion? Portsmouth, Plymouth, Cheltenham and Torquay.

Who will be relegated? Accrington and Bury.

Our verdict: 17th Alan Knill knows just how to deal with life in League 2 and the Gulls can avoid a last-gasp battle to stay up.


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Wycombe Wanderers

Manager: Gareth Ainsworth

Last season: 15th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 33/1, promotion 13/2, top-seven finish 7/2, top-half finish 11/10, bottom-half finish 4/6, relegation 11/1.

View from the stands - Dale Jenkins

What are the expectations for your club this season? Realistically a top half finish. This would constitute a small improvement on last season and should be achievable despite our budget cut. Most Wycombe supporters have a great deal of faith in manager Gareth Ainsworth's ability to motivate and get the best out of his players. Whilst we may not have the money to pay for the best players at this level, there is a confidence that Ainsworth will utilise the tools he has available effectively. With a continued excellent team spirit which saw Wycombe climb away from relegation danger last season, a play-off position may be possible.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? Kortney Hause at centre-half has unlimited potential. Still of a young age, he is cool, calm and composed on the ball. After making the break into the first team last season he scored his first professional goal and immediately caught the eye. A number of clubs at a much higher level are sniffing around and if Wycombe can keep hold of the youngster he could form a commanding partnership alongside the experienced Gary Doherty this year, and rocket his transfer value up another few notches.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? Mark Roberts has dropped a division to sign for ambitious Fleetwood Town. After already having gained successive promotions as club captain at Stevenage from the Conference and League 2, he is a commanding leader at this level and it will be interesting to see how he settles up north after spending a number of successful years at the Lamex Stadium.

Who will win promotion? Chesterfield, Cheltenham, Fleetwood and Portsmouth via the play-offs.

Who will be relegated? Morecambe and York.

Our verdict: 10th Gareth Ainsworth has everyone pulling in the same direction at Adams Park and that can see an improvement from last season.


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York City

Manager: Nigel Worthington

Last season: 17th

Sky Bet's odds: Winner 40/1, promotion 7/1, top-seven finish 4/1, top-half finish 15/8, bottom-half finish 2/5, relegation 9/1.

View from the stands - Warren Barner

What are the expectations for your club this season? The way last season ended so encouragingly under manager Nigel Worthington most fans would be happy with a mid-table finish. York would probably have been relegated under Gary Mills if he had stayed in charge, but went unbeaten in the last six games to stay up on the final game of the season. Worthington has made a couple of shrewd signings and pre-season friendlies have gone well against Championship clubs.

Which player from your club should we watch out for? The one player City fans are looking forward to seeing most is Estonia international Sander Puri, who was at St Mirren last season. He's a winger who impressed Worthington when he was manager of Northern Ireland so we're expecting big things from him. Hopefully he can supply the goals for Richard Cresswell, who is back at Bootham Crescent.

Which opposition player is worth watching in the League 2? That's a tough one. Oxford look as though they have pulled off a great signing in Dave Kitson, although things didn't really work out for him at Sheffield United and some fans were glad to see the back of him. If his head is right he should be a class above for League 2 though. Eoin Doyle should score plenty of goals for Chesterfield after a decent spell at Hibs.

Who will win promotion? Chesterfield, Portsmouth, Fleetwood and Oxford.

Who will be relegated? Morecambe and AFC Wimbledon.

Our verdict: 14th It was a real fight for survival in York's first season back in the Football League but enough work has been done by Nigel Worthington to suggest a more comfortable campaign is in store.


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