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Assessing The Promotion Contenders In This Year’s Championship

The Championship returned to our screens this weekend, with proceedings getting underway as Sunderland played out a 1-1 draw with Derby County and Nottingham Forest edged out Millwall 1-0.

As most sides return to action today, we take a look at the teams we believe will be competing for a place in the Premier League next season.

Aston Villa

Buoyed by the recent arrival of Chelsea legend John Terry – and the prospect of Steve Bruce’s first-full season at the helm, Villa will be looking to return to where they believe they belong, come the end of this campaign. A squad packed with players full of previous Premier League experience, and with new signings that strengthen the side in all areas, we reckon they’ll be there or thereabouts when it comes to who lifts the Championship title. Expect to see Jonathan Kodjia’s name on the scoresheet quite often.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12 : Steve Bruce the new manager of Aston Villa poses for a picture at the club's training ground at Bodymoor Heath on October 12, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

Middlesbrough

A disappointing return to the Premier League saw Boro drop straight back down. With Garry Monk now spearheading the challenge, Boro look to be a team with fresh enthusiasm ahead of a tough campaign. The signings of Britt Assombalonga and Martin Braithwaite show signs of real attacking intent – and keeping players like Ben Gibson, Adama Traore and Marten De Roon leave the spine of a team more than capable of mounting a stern challenge for the Championship crown.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - APRIL 14: Gary Monk manager / head coach of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St James' Park on April 14, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Hull

Losing Marco Silva is a massive blow to Hull – who were unlucky to see themselves relegated last season. Leonid Slutsky’s men have a chance of promotion this season, especially given the fact they’ve held on to their star players – Kamil Grosicki, Sam Clucas and Abel Hernandez. A team who always provide the opposition with a spirited fight, they should experience some joy this campaign – in the hope of a quick-fire return to England’s top tier.

FARO, PORTUGAL - JULY 22: Hull City forward Kamil Grosicki in action during the Algarve Cup match between SL Benfica and Hull City at Estadio Algarve on July 22, 2017 in Faro, Portugal. (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

Fulham

Once a mainstay of the Premier League – fans would be delighted to see the return of Fulham to the top-flight. They’ve done well to hold onto teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon – but with a relatively small squad, the Cottagers could perhaps do with some reinforcements before the close of the window. An entertaining team to watch, don’t be surprised if you see Fulham up top in a couple of months time – as they guarantee goals.

GRAZ, AUSTRIA - JULY 20: Ryan Sessegnon of Fulham FC (L) challenges Andre Ayew of West Ham for the ball during the preseason friendly match between West Ham United FC and Fulham FC at Sportzentrum Graz-Weinzoedl on July 20, 2017 in Graz, Austria. (Photo by West Ham United FC/West Ham United via Getty Images)

Sunderland

Sunderland’s great escape didn’t quite happen last year. They’ve lost their star man in Jermain Defoe – but with Simon Grayson coming in, the Black Cats will have fresh hope of a new chapter in the club’s history. Players like Aiden McGeady and Jeremain Lens should be more than capable of terrorising Championship defences – and the arrival of Everton youngsters Tylas Browning and Matthew Galloway should steady the ship at the back. If attitudes don’t improve at the Stadium of Light, however, then maybe Darren Gibson’s tirade can be forgiven after all.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - JULY 29: Aiden McGeady of Sunderland warms up before a pre-season friendly match between Sunderland AFC and Celtic at the Stadium of Light on July 29, 2017 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images)

Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena

About Jordan Norris

Mostly covering football and GAA - Jordan is currently studying a BA English in UCC, and can be contacted through jordannorris19@outlook.ie .