The 2022/23 EFL season is almost upon us, and we've rounded up each of Steve Freeth and Dan Childs' tips for the Championship, League One and League Two.
Steve Freeth: West Brom – 9/1
It takes a lot for me to get excited about the Albion these days, but the arrival of John Swift, coupled with Jed Wallace and the return of Okay Yokuslu, has me just that. Watch out for the rejuvenated Grady Diangana as well. No excuses for Steve Bruce.
Dan Childs: Norwich – 6/1
There is untapped potential in the squad and manager Dean Smith could be the right man to bring it out. He steered his boyhood club, Aston Villa, to promotion in 2018-19 and could guide the Canaries to a third title in five years.
Steve Freeth: Middlesbrough – 5/2
I’m backing Chris Wilder to make a couple of late striker additions to get this squad out of the Championship. The arrival of Darragh Lenihan is a fantastic bit of business at the back, they’re just lacking quality up top. I’m expecting that to be rectified under a top class manager.
Dan Childs: Watford – 15/8
The Hornets may need a bit of time to settle down but they should have a strong squad in place by the end of September and they look a solid pick to finish in one of the automatic promotion slots.
Steve Freeth: QPR – 7/2
Agonisingly tailed off after January when looking good for a Top 6 spot, but the appointment of the highly regarded Mick Beale has me going in again. Get fit soon, Chris Willock.
Dan Childs: Sunderland – 10/3
Black Cats' gaffer Alex Neil proved himself to be an excellent second tier manager during spells with Norwich and Preston North End and his star centre-forward, Ross Stewart, has the necessary quality to flourish at the higher level.
Steve Freeth: Birmingham – 6/4
As much as I like the appointment of John Eustace, I think he will find it tough at St Andrew’s. It was a struggle at the end of last season and I don’t see much changing, despite the talks of a takeover.
Dan Childs: Reading – 15/8
Reading manager Paul Ince is attempting to plug the gaps on a shoestring budget, but his squad lacks depth and experience and is likely to be exposed over the course of 46 games.
Steve Freeth: Ipswich – 5/1
Despite having seen Ipswich lose at Rotherham at the end of last season, I was convinced I was looking at the 2022/23 League One champions, I’m just disappointed that many people also thought the same having seen the prices. I’m excited to see what Kieran McKenna can do with a full season in charge at Portman Road.
Dan Childs: Sheffield Wednesday – 9/2
The club has a renewed determination to put things right and have flexed their muscles in the transfer market by acquiring prolific centre-forward Michael Smith and powerhouse central defender Michael Ihiekwe from promoted Rotherham.
Steve Freeth: Bolton – 4/1
Another slow start hampered Bolton’s challenge last season and they have a tough start at Ipswich, as well as Wycombe and Sheff Wed in first month. However, in Dafo Afolayan they have a match-winner and Ian Evatt could have plenty to shout about come May.
Dan Childs: Bolton – 4/1
Bolton racked up 26 points in the first half of last season and 47 in the second, having enhanced their squad with a January shopping spree. Ian Evatt has every right to be confident and could be celebrating by the end of the season.
Steve Freeth: Wycombe – 2/1
Gareth Ainsworth is staying and primed for another crack at a return to the Championship. Akinfenwa’s departure will be a blow to the dressing room but they have more than enough for another Top 6 tilt.
Dan Childs: MK Dons – 5/4
A trio of talented players have left with centre-back Harry Darling, midfielder David Kasumu and attacker Scott Twine moving to Swansea, Huddersfield and Burnley respectively, but the Dons are well-coached and are likely to come back strong.
Steve Freeth: Lincoln – 7/2
The locals saw 11 defeats at home last season and it could be more of the same this time around. The Imps squad still looks light and Mark Kennedy may have a tough job on his hands.
Dan Childs: Forest Green – 11/4
This summer they have lost their manager, Rob Edwards, wingbacks Nicky Cadden and Kane Wilson and all-action midfielder Ebou Adams. It will be tough for Edwards's replacement, Ian Burchnall, to plug the gaps and the Gloucestershire side could struggle.
Steve Freeth: Bradford – 7/1
One last trip aboard the Bradford bus after a few seasons of under-achieving in the basement. Mark Hughes was an eye-catching appointment back in February and his capture of Richie Smallwood could be the signing of the window.
Dan Childs: Mansfield – 11/1
The Stags tend to share the goals around up front but there is much more to come from the talented Rhys Oates and, overall, they have a squad strong enough to push for the title.
Steve Freeth: Stockport – 11/8
Stockport are back in the Football League and their stay in League Two may only be a short one. They’re clearly going in the right direction under the leadership of Dave Challinor with Fraser Horsfall bound to be a threat in box boxes.
Dan Childs: Leyton Orient – 4/1
Richie Wellens’ possession-based style seemed to suit the players and, after a full pre-season to work with the group, there should be further improvements.
Steve Freeth: Northampton – 6/5
Cobblers. An apt nickname for the Sixfields club after the last day heartbreak of last season, but while the loss of the dominant Horsfall is a blow, the landing of the wily Danny Hylton could be the pick of Brady’s bunch.
Dan Childs: Northampton – 6/5
Narrowly missed out on promotion last season, but they should at least secure a return to the top seven. The Cobblers have strengthened with the signings of centre-back Sam Sherring and striker Danny Hylton and can look forward to another strong campaign.
Steve Freeth: Harrogate – 5/1
While it's dangerous to take too much from pre-season friendlies, I travelled to Harrogate and Barrow this summer and left with both in the relegation notebook. Jack Diamond will be tough to replace.
Dan Childs: Hartlepool – 9/2
Centre-back Neil Byrne and top scorer Molyneux, who have joined Tranmere and Doncaster respectively, will be sorely missed and Pools may struggle to avoid a bottom two finish.