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Saturday, 16 August 2014, 15:00

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Championship preview

The season starts with a Lancashire derby, Derby host Blackburn and Harry Redknapp's QPR face Sheffield Wednesday.

Last Updated: 03/08/13 at 20:50

Harry Redknapp: Takes charge of QPR in the Championship for the first time

Harry Redknapp: Takes charge of QPR in the Championship for the first time

Lancashire derby to start; Derby host Blackburn on Sunday; Harry hosts Wednesday

The Championship season begins live on Sky Sports with a Lancashire derby at Turf Moor. Burnley host local rivals Bolton in a match that is likely to be a spicy affair.

Bolton just missed out on the play-offs last season, and are amongst the favourites to regain their place in the Premier League. Burnley, meanwhile, must face their first fixture without last season's top scorer Charlie Austin.

The other game televised live on Sky Sports (this time at 4pm on Sunday) features another Lancashire club in Blackburn Rovers. Supporters will be hoping for a season with far greater stability, and see their side travel to Pride Park to face Derby County.

In stark contrast to Rovers' managerial merry-go-round, Derby boss Nigel Clough is the longest-serving manager in the Championship, and after a summer containing six new signings there is cause for real optimism at the club.

Relegated QPR entertain Sheffield Wednesday, and will start the season as favourites to win the Championship.

Harry Redknapp has lost four of his players from last season for a combined £13million, but has been able to bring in as many new faces at Loftus Road. Karl Henry has joined from Wolves whilst Richard Dunne and Danny Simpson have been persuaded to drop down from the Premier League. Finally, the Hoops have signed Charlie Austin from Burnley despite the striker failing a medical at Hull City.

FA Cup holders and Europa League participants Wigan Athletic cross the Pennines to face Barnsley at Oakwell. Owen Coyle will hope to call on new signings to begin a bid for automatic promotion in the perfect manner.

Wigan have been amongst the busiest clubs in the division, bringing in no less than nine players. Three players (Mauro Boselli, Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz) have moved to pastures new, whilst eight other first-teamers were released in June. Opponents Barnsley will hoping to prove the bookmakers wrong, who make them third-favourites for the drop.

The other relegated side, Reading, have Nigel Adkins in charge for his first full season at the club. They play an Ipswich side that have been earmarked as dark horses for promotion after Mick McCarthy's arrival saw a substantial upturn of fortunes last season.

Middlesbrough host Leicester City in one of the glamour fixtures of the opening weekend. Leicester have been surprisingly quiet in the transfer window so far, but after missing out in the play-offs last season will be looking to go one stage further.

Gianfranco Zola's Watford side missed out on an automatic promotion spot on the final day last season, and the Hornets play Birmingham after making many of their notable loan deals permanent. The Italian connection in Hertfordshire is certainly helping the club's Premier League aspirations.

Leeds United have new owners for a new season, and with Brian McDermott at the helm have a man with experience of a Championship promotion campaign. They host Brighton, whose fans will also be hopeful of a promotion push of their own under new manager Oscar Garcia.

Promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest have been busy in the transfer market this summer as Billy Davies looks to mastermind a push for the Premier League, and many of their seven new recruits will be looking to feature against Huddersfield on the opening day.

Gary Johnson's Yeovil side mark their first ever match in the second tier with a trip to South London to face Millwall, for whom Steve Lomas will be in charge for the first time.

Bournemouth's first Championship fixture after promotion sees them host Charlton Athletic. Eddie Howe will be hoping to continue his phenomenally impressive job in charge of the Cherries.

League One champions Doncaster are also at home, up against Paul Ince's Blackpool. The Seasiders were boosted by the news that Tom Ince looks set to stay at the club, but many fans are worried that it could be a difficult season ahead.

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