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Thursday 3rd August 2017

Ladbrokes Championship 17/18 preview

It promises to be a fascinating season in the 2017/18 Ladbrokes Championship, with several clubs hoping to clinch promotion.

It promises to be a fascinating season in the 2017/18 Ladbrokes Championship, with several clubs hoping to clinch promotion.

Brechin City
Manager: Darren Dods
Title odds: 150/1
First two games:  Queen of the South (A), Livingston (H)
City are back in the second tier after an absence of more than 10 years. Darren Dods’ side finished fourth in League 1 last season but clinched promotion after beating both Raith Rovers and Alloa in dramatic penalty shoot-outs. Survival will be the aim for the Glebe Park men, who have brought in Ryan McGeever (Queen's Park), Isaac Layne (Grays Athletic), Euan Spark (Dunfermline Athletic), Kalvin Orsi (St Mirren), Sean Crighton (Livingston) and Jordan Sinclair (Livingston).

Manager: Stevie Aitken
Title odds: 40/1
First two games:  Morton (H), Falkirk (A)
Again finished as Scotland’s highest-ranked part-time club last season as they secured eighth place, avoiding the relegation play-off on goal difference. The Sons had a disappointing Betfred Cup campaign, finishing bottom of Group E, but will hope to defy the odds again in the Championship. There have been more than a dozen new arrivals, including Andy Dowie (Queen of the South), Mark Stewart (Raith Rovers), Chris Johnston (Raith Rovers), Dougie Hill (Brechin City), Danny Handling (Hibernian) and Sam Wardrop (Celtic, loan).

Dundee United
Manager: Ray McKinnon
Title odds: 2/1
First two games:  Inverness CT (A), Queen of the South (H)
Lost out to Hamilton Accies in the play-off final in May, having finished third last season, but are bookies’ favourites to take the title this time round. Topped Betfred Cup Group C and face rivals Dundee in the last 16. Striker Simon Murray has joined Hibs but Scott McDonald has arrived from Motherwell while Billy King, Tam Scobbie and Paul McMullan are among the other new signings. Very strong at home last season but will look to improve their away record.

Dunfermline Athletic
Manager: Allan Johnston
Title odds: 10/1
First two games:  Livingston (A), Inverness CT (H)
Finished fifth last season, with 12 wins, 12 draws and 12 defeats, but were only four points short of the play-offs and will be hoping to go one better this time round. Impressive in the Betfred Cup, finishing above Hearts to set up a last-16 tie away to Rangers. Jean-Yves M'voto (Raith Rovers)
Declan McManus (Fleetwood Town), Aaron Splaine (unattached), Dean Shiels (FC Edmonton) and Fraser Aird (Falkirk) have been brought in by Pars boss Allan Johnston this summer.

Manager: Peter Houston
Title odds: 3/1
First two games:  St Mirren (A), Dumbarton (H)
The Bairns were runners-up to Hibernian in 2016/17 – picking up 30 points at home and exactly the same number on their travels – but were beaten by Dundee United in the play-off semi-finals. Peter Houston’s men coasted through their Betfred Cup section with a 100% record and host Livingston in the last 16. Alex Harris (Hibernian) and Rory Loy (Dundee) have been snapped up this summer, along with goalkeepers David Mitchell (Dundee) and Robbie Mutch (Aberdeen).

Inverness Caley Thistle
Manager: John Robertson
Title odds: 5/1
First two games:  Dundee United (H), Dunfermline Athletic (A)
Caley Thistle were relegated from the Premiership after finishing a point below Hamilton Accies and John Robertson has since returned for a second spell as manager to replace Richie Foran. Bounced back at the first time of asking when they were last relegated but are fourth favourites with the bookies. There have been a number of changes to the squad and new arrivals include John Baird (Falkirk), Mark Ridgers (Partick Thistle), George Oakley (AFC Wimbledon), Collin Seedorf (RKC Waalwijk) and Zak Elbouzedi (West Brom).

Manager: David Hopkin
Title odds: 16/1
First two games:  Dunfermline Athletic (H), Brechin City (A)
Won League 1 in style last season, finishing 19 points clear of Alloa and scoring more SPFL goals than anyone except Celtic, to seal an immediate return to the Championship. Topped their Betfred Cup group ahead of Partick Thistle and are away to Falkirk in the last 16 next week. Scott Robinson (East Fife), Ross Brown (East Fife), Josh Peters (Forfar Athletic), Dylan Mackin (Motherwell), Nikolay Todorov (Hearts, loan) and Neil Alexander (Aberdeen) have been added to the squad.

Manager: Jim Duffy
Title odds: 16/1
First two games:  Dumbarton (A), St Mirren (H)
Jim Duffy steered Morton into the play-offs last term but they were beaten by Dundee United at the quarter-final stage. Were runners-up to Motherwell in Betfred Cup Group F but didn’t have enough points to qualify for the last 16, having reached the semi-finals last season. New signings for 2017/18 are Robert Thomson (Dumbarton), Bob McHugh (Falkirk), Darren Barr (Dumbarton), Gary Harkins (Ayr United), Connor McManus (Celtic) and Jack Iredale (ECU Joondalup).

Queen of the South
Manager: Gary Naysmith
Title odds: 16/1
First two games:  Brechin City (H), Dundee United (A)
Queens had to settle for sixth place in the Championship last season after failing to build on a terrific start. Finished third in a tight Betfred Cup Group G last month, behind Hamilton Accies and Albion Rovers. Key man Stephen Dobbie remains at Palmerston and Andy Stirling (Dumbarton), Callum Fordyce (Dunfermline Athletic), Alan Martin (Dumbarton) and Shaun Rooney (York City) have been brought in by QOS boss Gary Naysmith, who replaced Gavin Skelton during 2016/17.

St Mirren
Manager: Jack Ross
Title odds: 10/3
First two games:  Falkirk (H), Morton (A)
Saints looked to be heading for League 1 at the turn of the year but new boss Jack Ross, who arrived from Alloa in October, transformed them in the second half of the season with an outstanding run of form that saw them seal safety on the last day and finish seventh. St Mirren have lost the talented Stevie Mallan to Barnsley but have been busy in the transfer market – Gavin Reilly (Hearts), Ian McShane (Ross County) and the two Ross Stewarts from Albion Rovers are among the new boys.