Blues 13/2 For Promotion
If last season is any sort of guide, predicting how the Championship will unfold is a thankless task.
Virtually every team in the league will harbour realistic hopes of reaching at least the play-offs, but there is one team that I see potentially standing out from the crowd - Birmingham City. After being thrown straight into a relegation battle, Alex McLeish has now had time to settle in properly and some shrewd buys, in particular Lee Carsley and Kevin Phillips, should more than make up for those players that inevitably departed St Andrews. In Maik Taylor, plus a likely centre-back pairing of Ridgewell and Martin Taylor, there`s plenty of scope for clean sheets at this level, while goals will surely never be a problem given a range of striking options that would make some Premiership clubs envious. They have also enjoyed a good pre-season, which will hopefully ensure confidence is fully restored after last year`s traumas, so an immediate return to the top flight looks a solid bet.
As for who could join Birmingham in the Premiership, the claims of Ipswich look as solid as any. The Tractor Boys made a fortress of Portman Road last year and the return of Richard Wright to the club where he first gained international recognition should be key in their quest to eke out more points on their travels. West Brom showed last season that trying to play good football at this level is generally rewarded, and a similar philosophy from Jim Magilton can pay dividends for Ipswich.
Back Birmingham to win at 13/2 www.oddschecker.com
Back Ipswich for promotion at 6/1 www.oddschecker.com