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League One offers a remarkable opportunity for teams to break through and achieve an unexpected promotion, which may have seemed impossible in the previous season. Last year, Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday, and Plymouth Argyle, being the dominant forces, secured places in the Championship. The current League One promotion odds reflect a situation where Reading, Blackpool, and Wigan Athletic, descending from the second tier, are not overwhelmingly intimidating for the other teams in the third tier.
Derby County and Bolton Wanderers have emerged as financial powerhouses in the division, managing to sign experienced Championship players during the summer transfer window. Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic, the latter under new ownership, will be eager for improved fortunes this time around. Despite their historical significance, both clubs have missed out on the top six in the past three seasons. The third tier is highly competitive, with enticing odds available for some underdogs who offer good value when considering League One promotion prospects.
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League One automatic promotion odds
Bolton to take next step towards Premier League charge
Under the guidance of Ian Evatt, Bolton possess a well-defined vision and a long-term strategy. Heading into his fourth season with the team, Evatt has already accomplished the remarkable feat of elevating them from League Two and securing a top six finish in League One. The squad depth and quality, including the second-string players, rank highly in the League One standard, and the team is expected to bolster further before the transfer window closes. Additionally, the financial strength of the club provides room for improvement and reinforcements in January, if needed.
In the previous season, Wanderers finished fifth, showcasing periods of exceptional performance that hinted at their ability to compete for a top two position. With other top-end teams likely to face a decrease in strength this term, Evatt recognizes the golden opportunity to seize and secure a return to the Championship. To strengthen specific areas, the team has made shrewd acquisitions, bringing in Nathan Baxter from Chelsea and Josh Dacres-Cogley from Tranmere Rovers, complementing the previous contributions of loaned talents like James Trafford and Conor Bradley from Premier League clubs.
Bolton’s success in the loan market over the last three seasons stems from Evatt’s possession-based style of play, which entices prominent clubs to send their players for a full-season or six-month loan to aid their development. This trend is likely to continue, with more loan signings expected in the near future, as they have had only one loanee arrive at the time of writing. Overall, Bolton’s clear vision, strategic planning, and success in talent development position them as strong contenders for a Championship promotion under the leadership of Ian Evatt.
⬆️ Bolton Wanderers to finish in the Top 2
Manager Warne the key to Derby’s success
Despite narrowly missing out on the play-offs last season, Derby County are putting together a squad that holds great potential to compete strongly in the Championship. Under the capable leadership of Paul Warne, who boasts three promotions from League One in his previous managerial role at Rotherham United, the team is in good hands. While the departures of David McGoldrick and Jason Knight have left some gaps in the squad, Warne’s extensive contacts and reputation are proving beneficial in the transfer market. This is evident from the high-caliber players already brought to the club this summer, which explains why Derby County leads the League One promotion odds.
The team has made notable signings, including Josh Vickers and Conor Washington from the Millers, along with Callum Elder, Sonny Bradley, and Curtis Nelson, who bring valuable experience from higher divisions to strengthen the backline. The addition of Kane Wilson as a right-wing back from Bristol City adds further flair to the squad, with Derby now able to invest in transfer fees again. Additionally, standout players such as Eiran Cashin, Max Bird, and Conor Hourihane make Derby a formidable force in the division.
With the unwavering support of the Pride Park faithful behind the manager and the club’s hierarchy, achieving a top-two position in the Championship becomes a realistic target. The only missing piece for the team to become fairly bulletproof contenders is one more impactful attacking addition, which, if secured, would position Derby County in a very favorable and confident position with plenty of time left in the transfer window.
⬆️ Derby County to finish in the Top 2
Blackpool dark horses for Championship return
Neil Critchley performed admirably at Blackpool during the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons, achieving remarkable success. First, he led the team to promotion from League One through the play-offs, displaying their dominance as the best team in the league during the second half of the season. In the following season, Blackpool made their mark in the Championship play-off picture and comfortably secured a mid-table position. Subsequently, Critchley departed in the summer of 2022 to join Aston Villa as Steven Gerrard’s assistant manager. While he faced challenges during a brief period at Queens Park Rangers, it was evident that the issues at Loftus Road were not solely his responsibility.
Now, Critchley returns to Bloomfield Road, where he inherits a squad that largely resembles the one he previously worked wonders with; many players have survived since then. To bolster the team, Blackpool has made valuable additions, including Oliver Norburn, who brings strong leadership and League One experience. Players like CJ Hamilton, Jordan Gabriel, and Kenny Dougall have thrived at this level in the past, further strengthening the team’s potential. Although it might take some time, Critchley’s ability to recreate the positive environment he previously fostered could position them as serious contenders for a top-two spot.
The loss of talismanic forward Jerry Yates, who secured a move to Swansea City, is undoubtedly a significant blow for the Tangerines. Nevertheless, with astute moves in the transfer market, they can build an impressive forward line around players like Shayne Lavery and CJ Hamilton. Jake Beesley, if he can improve his availability, could also emerge as a player to watch closely. The youthful composition of the squad suggests that Critchley should be able to garner strong commitment from the players early on in the campaign. As a result, Blackpool’s odds for promotion in League One could significantly improve by the end of the transfer window.
⬆️ Blackpool to finish in the Top 2
League One Top 6 odds
Barton’s Rovers to spring several surprises
In their first season after being promoted from League Two, Rovers displayed significant inconsistency in League One. However, during certain periods, they showcased themselves as one of the most formidable attacking units in the league. As of the present moment, they have the League One Player of the Season for 2022/23, Aaron Collins, still in their ranks. Combining his prowess with Jevani Brown, playing off a central striker, could prove to be a lethal partnership. Moreover, the team boasts the dangerous attacking midfield capabilities of Luke McCormick and Antony Evans. With the recent arrivals of James Wilson and George Friend, strengthening the backline, the squad under Joey Barton’s management is quietly confident of achieving at least a top-half finish. Interestingly, there are parallels between their progression and that of Bolton Wanderers, who secured a fifth-place finish in their second season in League One last term.
If everything falls into place right from the start, the Gas could comfortably secure a place inside the play-offs. The team possesses a wealth of League One experience in the form of John Marquis, who could lead the line, and the addition of former Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair further bolsters their ranks. All of these factors combined make Bristol Rovers a force to be reckoned with in this season’s League One competition. So, it would be unwise to underestimate their potential in the League One outrights.
🥈 Bristol Rovers to finish in the Top 6
Fleetwood to spring play-off shock?
After achieving League One play-off positions in 2016/17 and 2019/20, Fleetwood Town made a conscious shift towards a more sustainable funding approach for the club. As a result, they found themselves somewhat treading carefully in recent seasons, given their modest budget. Nevertheless, under the guidance of Scott Brown, they managed to comfortably position themselves towards the mid-table in the last campaign.
The club has notably increased its transfer budget since January, placing them in a stronger position to build on the progress made under Brown’s coaching in the past year. The additions of Danny Mayor and Ryan Broom prove to be very astute moves, enhancing the supply line to Jack Marriott, who has the potential to become one of the most formidable number nines in the division, provided he remains fit.
Fleetwood Town showcased a commendable defensive performance last season, ranking ninth-best in League One. With incremental improvements made across the pitch, the team appears poised for a surprising push towards the top six in the upcoming season. As they continue to bolster their squad and build on their sustainable approach, Fleetwood Town could be a dark horse for a remarkable League One play-off contention.
🥈 Fleetwood Town to finish in the Top 6
Portsmouth to take a step towards Premier League return?
Despite Portsmouth’s promising results, their performances last season didn’t quite match up to expectations. Although they briefly re-entered the play-off race towards the end of the season when John Mousinho took over as the manager, they couldn’t fully capitalize on their potential. However, with some of the strong teams getting promoted and clearing Pompey’s path, coupled with an exciting summer transfer window, the upcoming 2023/24 season presents a fantastic opportunity for the club to secure a spot in the League One top 6.
In recent seasons, it has felt like Portsmouth was just a few players away from becoming a real force in the division. The signings of Anthony Scully, Christian Saydee, and Gavin Whyte bring fresh dynamism to their forward line, enhancing their attacking capabilities. Additionally, Ryley Towler’s emergence as one of the league’s best defenders and the arrival of Will Norris as a reliable goalkeeper from his impressive performances with Peterborough United last term further bolster the team.
Portsmouth boasts a strong core of players capable of raising the standards at the league level. Marlon Pack serves as a key cog in the midfield, providing stability. Connor Ogilvie is a dependable performer in both the center-back and left-back positions. Meanwhile, Colby Bishop excels as a striker and appears destined for Championship football in the near future.
Given the club’s ambition in the transfer market and Mousinho’s leadership from the touchline, which the supporter base has been yearning for since the departure of Paul Cook, odds of 2.37 for Pompey to finish in the top 6 seem generous. With the pieces falling into place, the stage is set for Portsmouth to make a strong push for success in the League One competition.
🥈 Portsmouth to finish in the Top 6
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League One relegation odds
Cheltenham face uphill task to stay afloat
Cheltenham Town’s position in League One last season, with an impressive nine-point margin of safety. Taking over after Michael Duff’s departure in the summer of 2022, Elliott’s managerial prowess played a crucial role in the team’s survival. Alfie May’s goals, who has since moved to Charlton Athletic, were instrumental in their success. Without his contributions, Cheltenham Town could have faced relegation. Now, the striker role falls on Aidan Keena, who showed promise by netting six goals in the latter part of the previous season, having arrived from Sligo Rovers in January.
However, there have been concerns over the team’s progress during the summer transfer window. The departures of key players like Charlie Raglan, Ryan Broom, and Ryan Jackson, the latter of whom contributed seven assists from full-back and wing-back positions last term, have affected the squad’s strength. Additionally, they would not want to heavily rely on goalkeeper Luke Southwood, as they did in the previous season. Cheltenham Town’s success primarily relied on a solid foundation last season, but if goals dry up, especially in the absence of May, the prospect of facing the unforgiving four-team drop zone becomes more likely.
League One prices might be slightly shorter this season due to an extra team facing relegation, but the competitive nature of the division allows for a little more margin for error compared to the other EFL leagues. Nonetheless, there is still time left in the transfer window, and Wade Elliott is facing an uphill battle to ensure the club’s survival in the third tier. As the situation stands, significant efforts and astute moves are needed to strengthen the squad and sustain their position in League One.
⬇️ Cheltenham Town to be relegated from League One
Exeter to take backward step
Exeter City had an impressive first season following their promotion from League Two, finishing 14th in the previous term. However, things became less exciting for the Grecians after Gary Caldwell took over from Matt Taylor as the manager. Moreover, the team has suffered significant losses in terms of key players from the 2022/23 season, without convincing replacements being brought in thus far.
Players like Jevani Brown, Josh Key, Archie Collins, Jake Caprice, Kevin McDonald, and Jay Stansfield played crucial roles in Exeter’s success last season. Additionally, Sam Nombe seems set to depart the club before the transfer deadline. These departures leave a noticeable void in the team’s lineup. Furthermore, Exeter City operates on a smaller budget compared to other teams in the league, which, coupled with their geographic location, sometimes poses challenges in effectively recruiting new players. Though their financial situation was boosted this summer by a sell-on clause in Ethan Ampadu’s transfer deal from Chelsea to Leeds United, it remains challenging for the club to strengthen their squad.
As the new season approaches, Exeter supporters should brace themselves for a potentially challenging campaign. Caldwell will need to display greater tactical resolve than he did in the latter part of the previous term to steer the team away from serious relegation concerns. The odds of 4.50 in the League One relegation category appear to be very generous. The club faces a reality check and will need to overcome significant obstacles to ensure their safety in the division.
⬇️ Exeter City to be relegated from League One
Northampton to drop down AGAIN?
Northampton Town have been consistently moving between League Two and League One for a considerable period, and despite some commendable recruitment efforts in recent years, they will still find themselves among the less financially equipped teams in League One for the 2023/24 season. However, the Cobblers demonstrated remarkable resilience and strong determination when they bounced back from final day disappointment in 2021/22 to secure automatic promotion last season.
Under the guidance of Jon Brady, the team enjoys unwavering support from the home crowd, and he will rely on the spirit he has fostered within the dressing room to give Northampton Town the best possible chance of surviving in the third tier. Nevertheless, the odds reflect the challenges they face, as they find themselves in their current position in the League One outrights for a reason. One significant issue for them has been scoring goals, which played a part in their relegation from League One in 2020/21, and it could once again prove to be a hurdle in the upcoming season.
The addition of Tyreece Simpson on a season-long loan from Huddersfield Town as the leading striker brings an intriguing prospect, but the squad lacks sufficient proven quality at this level. Although Kieron Bowie, a smart loan signing from Fulham after impressing in League Two last season, adds depth to the forward line, it places considerable pressure on Mitch Pinnock and Sam Hoskins to deliver in the final third, a level they have not previously experienced. Under Brady’s guidance, the team will make a valiant effort, but the odds of 2.75 seem like a sensible bet, indicating that they may narrowly miss the cut for League One predictions.
⬇️ Northampton Town to be relegated from League One
Carlisle to be brought down to earth
Paul Simpson achieved one of the remarkable EFL fairytales as he took charge of Carlisle United, ensuring their survival in the 2021/22 season. Subsequently, in the 2022/23 campaign, the team excelled by contending for automatic promotion and eventually securing promotion through a thrilling Wembley penalty shoot-out. His tenure as the former England U20 manager has been a revelation for the club, instilling the expertise needed to stabilize Carlisle at this level.
The future of midfield maestro Owen Moxon remains uncertain, with ongoing interest likely to persist until the end of the transfer window. If he departs, the odds of 2.50 for Carlisle to be relegated in the League One outrights appear reasonable. Notably, several key players instrumental in their promotion, such as Omari Patrick, Joel Senior, Morgan Feeney, and Kristian Dennis, have moved on, and the subsequent additions have failed to impress neutral observers. The team is in dire need of additional attacking flair, and time is running out to bolster their ranks before the start of the season. As a result, there is little excitement surrounding Carlisle in our League One predictions.
⬇️ Carlisle United to be relegated from League One
League One top scorer odds
Charles to lead Bolton charge
Dion Charles has brought a breath of fresh air to Bolton Wanderers since joining from Accrington Stanley in January 2022. The dynamic number 9 has not only become a key player for Bolton but has also made his mark for Northern Ireland over the past year. Under the guidance of Ian Evatt, the Trotters narrowly missed out on promotion in the League One play-offs last season, continuing their upward trajectory. Evatt’s possession-based style of play, though at times frustrating for supporters when breaking down defensive setups, has made Bolton one of the more potent attacking teams in the division.
Despite facing competition for his position, Charles remains the first-choice striker when fit. Last season, he impressively netted 17 league goals in 38 out of 46 League One appearances. This tally was slightly below the expected goals (xG) of 19.84, while Bolton, as a team, scored 60 goals in total from an xG of 68.54. With another season of continuity and familiarity with Evatt’s demanding style of play, the squad is poised to reach new heights and mount a serious challenge for automatic promotion.
As the transfer window progresses, Bolton’s attractive setup and positive track record in developing young talents make them an appealing destination for high-profile loan signings. Notably, they have played a crucial role in the growth of players like James Trafford, Conor Bradley, Dapo Afolayan, and Shola Shoretire in recent years. With an upgraded chance creation department, Charles should set his sights on achieving a minimum of 20 league goals this season. The prospect of reaching such a milestone indicates his potential to play a pivotal role in Bolton Wanderers’ quest for success in the upcoming campaign.
⚽ Dion Charles to be League One top scorer
Collins to key for the Rams
James Collins has faced a series of disappointments in the past two seasons since he left Luton Town to join Cardiff City in the summer of 2021. Initially, the Irishman’s stock was soaring, having achieved double-digit goal figures in the Championship. However, the move to South Wales did not unfold as planned, resulting in his departure after just one year. Last season, Collins struggled with uncharacteristic poor finishing, managing to score only 11 league goals from an expected goals (xG) tally of 14.96. This could potentially lead to an inflated perception of his value in the League One outrights. Despite this, he is expected to play a crucial role as a key player for the title favorites, Derby County.
Under the guidance of Paul Warne, who already boasts three League One promotions on his CV, Derby County is making exciting additions to their squad. With the likes of Joe Ward and Kane Wilson already brought in, the quality of deliveries into the box is expected to significantly improve. Additionally, Conor Hourihane’s presence in central midfield adds class to the team. Although Collins started only 29 league games last season, this was partly due to the exceptional performances of David McGoldrick, who has since departed for Notts County. Now, Collins is the likely candidate to fill his shoes, and odds of 20/1 seem reasonable for a player with a strong goal-scoring record in this league, having netted 56 goals in 154 appearances.
⚽ James Collins to be League One top scorer
Barton and Marquis the key to success for the Gas
John Marquis, a familiar name among the contenders for the top scorer in League One, has seen his odds lengthen in the past couple of years and is currently set at 40/1. The third tier of English football appears to be wide open this season, as evident from the League One outright odds, and the competition at the top end is expected to be less formidable compared to the previous seasons. Bristol Rovers showed glimpses of their potential as a play-off chasing side last term, and the exciting addition of Jevani Brown is set to boost their attacking capabilities.
Despite being 31 years old, Marquis had a quietly impressive performance last season, scoring nine goals in 18 league starts. His playing time was somewhat affected by injuries during the middle portion of the season. Under the guidance of attacking manager Joey Barton, Bristol Rovers have the potential to thrive, particularly with an exciting front three comprising Jevani Brown, League One Player of the Season for 2022/23 Aaron Collins, and John Marquis. Marquis’ goal-scoring numbers from the previous season were no fluke, as he netted nine times from an expected goals (xG) tally of 9.83. With the attacking options at their disposal, Bristol Rovers will be eager to make significant strides in the upcoming season.
⚽ John Marquis to be League One top scorer
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