London clubs ready for Championship’s big kick-off

IT’S only 67 days since the last ball was kicked in the Championship but the race for the £90m ticket to the top flight gets under way again tonight.

QPR made the leap in May but have been replaced among the London contingent in English football’s second tier by West Ham.

Big names abound – from former England managers Steve McClaren and Sven-Goran Eriksson to would-be national boss Sam Allardyce – while the harsh economic climate is sure to make it more competitive than ever.

First match Cardiff (H), Sunday

Players in Kevin Nolan, Abdoulaye Faye, Matthew Taylor, Joey O’Brien

Players out Danny Gabbidon, Kieron Dyer, Manuel Da Costa, Radoslav Kovac, Demba Ba

Prospects Hammers have gambled on a manager with pedigree in Sam Allardyce, and he‘ll be expected to steer one of the division’s strongest squads to promotion

First match Reading (A), Saturday

Players in Jordan Stewart, Ryan Allsop, Therry Racon, Darius Henderson

Players out Kiernan Hughes-Mason, Marc Laird, Theo Robinson, Danny Schofield, John Sullivan, Ashley Grimes, Neil Harris, Andy Frampton, Steve Morison, Patrick O’Connor

Prospects Fans will be happy with a repeat of last year’s ninth place, but Kenny Jackett must manage without striker Steve Morison


First match Peterborough (A), Saturday

Players in Andrew Davies (loan), Ryan McGivern (loan), Jonathan Parr, Mile Jedinak, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Glenn Murray

Players out Adam Barrett, Kieran Djilali, Alassane N’Diaye (loan), Neil Danns, Claude Davis, Charlie Mann

Prospects Dougie Freedman enhanced his hero status by avoiding the drop and survival looks the most realistic goal again