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Match Previews

Sky Bet League 1: Season Preview

6 August 2015

Sky Bet League 1 kicks off this weekend, with the division looking particularly open going into 2015/16.

There are plenty of teams eyeing up the promotion spots, making League 1 very hard to predict and everything is set for a hugely intriguing campaign. 


Promoted sides Burton Albion, Shrewsbury Town, Bury and Southend United will all be competing at League 1 level, after success in Sky Bet League 2 last time around.

Burton, the League 2 champions in 2014/15, have been very active in the summer bringing in 11 new faces to give Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink more options to pick from.

Shrewsbury and Southend, however, have adopted a slightly more quiet approach to their transfer window, largely choosing to trust the players which got them up to compete at a new level.

Bury, meanwhile, have brought in a lot of quality following promotion. The Shakers have renovated their strike force, signing proven goalscorers Tom Pope and Leon Clarke, who will give them a physically imposing attacking line-up.

Fifth time lucky?

Sheffield United, with the newly-appointed Nigel Adkins at the helm, will be hoping that they can make it out of the division at the fifth time of asking.

The Blades have narrowly missed out on promotion on numerous occasions since dropping down to Sky Bet League 1 in 2010/11, and lost in the Play-Off semi-final to Swindon Town last campaign.

With the additions of Billy Sharp and Conor Sammon up front, the Yorkshire outfit have plenty of attacking options, which enhances a squad already packed with quality.

It leaves their supporters feeling more optimistic than any other, according to a Football League survey, with anticipation for the new campaign high at Bramall Lane.

Bouncing back?

Wigan Athletic chairman David Sharpe has made no secret of his desire to finish at the top of the Sky Bet League 1 pile.

“I don’t just want to win this league,” he said In July. “I want to smash it and get 100 points.”

The Latics came down from the Championship last term, but they have been rapidly renovating their squad over the summer, with 12 new faces coming in.

Of the more notable signings, Craig Morgan should provide them with solidarity at the back, while Will Grigg is a proven scorer at this level and Max Power will be looking to make an impact at a higher level, after impressing with League 2 Tranmere Rovers last year.

.@WillGrigg signed earlier today from @BrentfordFC -

— Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) July 14, 2015
Similarly, Blackpool have also had a hectic summer, with 10 new faces coming in to bolster Neil McDonald’s squad.

Millwall have been slightly less active, but Neil Harris will still be happy with their business over the past few months. The return of Steve Morison has increased optimism at The Den, and his partnership with Lee Gregory will be interesting to watch.

Familiar faces

Perennial League 1 promotion candidates Peterborough United will be hoping that the appointment of former military man Dave Robertson provides them with the ammunition needed to mount a challenge for a top-two spot.

The Posh have largely continued their policy of bringing in talented, young players this summer, but the signing of Jack Collison has caught the eye.

Bradford City will also have their eyes on automatic promotion, backed by their supporters, who have snapped up over 18,000 season tickets.

The Bantams’ capture of Paul Anderson is a major coup, and the service he will deliver for the likes of James Hanson, Steve Davies, Luke James and Billy Clarke should make them a big threat.

A big season for…

The 2014/15 campaign was the one where Tom Bradshaw really announced his ability to the Sky Bet Football League.

Bradshaw looked a good prospect when he represented Shrewsbury Town in his younger years, but it took a move to Walsall for him to really start showcasing his talent.

The 23-year-old had only ever managed seven goals in a season prior to a move to the Saddlers, but his first season at the Banks’s saw him slam in 17 goals in 29 league matches.

The challenge for Bradshaw this term will be to continue that goalscoring form, with Dean Smith’s Walsall side bound to be determined to utilise their main goal-getter’s talents.

The addition of Milan Lalkovic should ensure that Bradshaw receives regular service, and he will be hoping to further enhance his reputation as a finisher as the campaign progresses.

Managers to watch

Both Lee Johnson (Barnsley) and Justin Edinburgh (Gillingham) will be hoping to build on the impressive starts they made at their respective clubs last time around.

Johnson guided Barnsley on a nine match unbeaten streak soon after taking charge, while under the stewardship of Edinburgh, the Gills went eight games without defeat for a period of last campaign.

Read more: A look at the men in the dugout ahead of the 2015/16 Football League season

Sky Bet League 1 players in the emerging XI

In the build-up to the new season, we asked supporters to suggest a squad of talented emerging players in The Football League, and three players from Sky Bet League 1 made the selection.

Che Adams – Sheffield United:

A bundle of pace and energy, Adams burst onto the scene last season in the Capital One Cup when he smashed two goals past Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final of the competition.

Although the Blades went out of the tournament that night, Adams showed just how much potential he has and it will be up to Nigel Adkins to refine that ability.

The 19-year-old moved to Bramall Lane in November 2014, after impressing in non-league with Ilkeston, but he was used sparingly by Nigel Clough following his arrival.

This season he is likely to be a much more prominent part of the Yorkshire side’s line-up and there is great excitement at the club about what he could do, if he is unleashed on the division.

We asked for your Football League rising stars - but did your pick make our Emerging XI? >>

— The Football League (@football_league) July 27, 2015
Alfie Mawson – Barnsley:

Brought in from Brentford this summer, Mawson joins Barnsley after building a big reputation for himself while on loan at Wycombe Wanderers.

The young defender helped the Chairboys into the Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off Final last season, with his displays earning him third place in the division’s Player of the Year award.

Daniel Bentley – Southend United:

The 22-year-old stopper broke a club record by keeping 12 consecutive clean sheets at Roots Hall in 2014/15, and he will be looking to tend goal with similar success at a higher level now.

Read more: Football League emerging XI: Who to watch out for in 2015/16.

Opening day fixtures

Saturday 8th August

Burton Albion v Scunthorpe United
Chesterfield v Barnsley
Colchester United v Blackpool   
Coventry City v Wigan Athletic
Crewe Alexandra v Port Vale
Doncaster Rovers v Bury
Fleetwood Town v Southend United
Gillingham v Sheffield United
Rochdale v Peterborough United
Shrewsbury Town v Millwall
Swindon Town v Bradford City
Walsall v Oldham Athletic

Don’t miss a thing!

We’ll be providing matchday content and live updates on social media throughout 2015/16 - follow The Football League and Sky Bet League 1 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Channel 5 is the new home for The Football League’s weekly highlights show, Football League Tonight. The show will be screened live in a primetime slot of 9pm on every Saturday of the new season, starting this weekend.

Read more: Channel 5's Football League Tonight to broadcast highlights at primetime.

Read more: Sky Bet Championship season preview.

Read more: Sky Bet League 2 season preview.

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