League One 2012-13: Club-by-club preview

Sheffield United will bid to avoid the heartache of last season by gaining automatic promotion to the Championship at the second attempt.

Danny Wilson's men finished third last season and then lost out in the play-off final shoot-out to Huddersfield.

Swindon Town could also be contenders with Paolo Di Canio hoping to achieve successive promotions backed up with strong finances.

MK Dons, fifth last season, hope to go beyond the play-offs this time round and claim automatic promotion.

BBC Sport experts assess each side's preparations with a club-by-club analysis ahead of the new season.

You can also check out BBC guides to the Premier League, Championship and League Two.

Bournemouth

Manager: Paul Groves

Last season: 11th

Best summer signing: Miles Addison

One to watch: Eunan O'Kane

Bournemouth

BBC Sport's Nabil Hassan: "After an inconsistent season, it's been a summer of change at Dean Court. Even the stadium has been renamed. Paul Groves was given the full-time job in May and he has spent the past four months freshening things up at the Cherries.

"The much-coveted Miles Addison was perhaps his key signing of the summer, but persuading Marc Pugh to sign a new contract could be the best bit of business Bournemouth do.

"So, having invested heavily in the close season, chairman Eddie Mitchell and co-owner Maxim Demin will expect to challenge for the play-offs at the very least. Anything less and it could be another summer of upheaval at Dean Court. Sorry, the Goldsands Stadium."

Brentford

Manager: Uwe Rosler

Last season: 9th

Best summer signing: Farid El-Alagui

One to watch: Clayton Donaldson

Brentford

BBC London 94.9's Billy Reeves: "Last season was a settling-in one for Uwe Rosler. Blighted by injuries - but a record-equalling away run - and the fans have really warmed to the gaffer due to his somewhat clamorous technical area behaviour and charm at fans' forums.

"Pre-season was splendid, including an exotic week in Saxony that the fans were encouraged to be part League One club-by-club preview of.

"The club have widened the pitch (by about a metre) and installed sprinklers at the request of the coaching staff - so it's an upping of standards all round. The squad has nice mix of youth and experience and plays an attractive style. Play-offs would be nice, Bees haven't been above this division for 20 years."

Bury

Manager: Peter Shirtliff (caretaker)

Last season: 14th

Best summer signing: Adam Lockwood

One to watch: Lateef Elford-Alliyu

Bury

BBC Sport's Phil Cartwright: "Bury's preparations for the new season have been severely disrupted by the departure of manager Richie Barker to Crawley, just 11 days before their first league game.

"He had led the Shakers to the security of mid-table in their first year back in the third tier and supporters would have been confident of further progress, despite having one of the smallest budgets in the division.

"Before leaving, Barker had added smartly, bringing in experienced defender Adam Lockwood and exciting young front men Lateef Elford-Alliyu and Marcus Marshall.

"But it will be difficult to seriously assess Bury's prospects this season until a new manager is appointed."

Carlisle United

Manager: Greg Abbott

Last season: 8th

Best summer signing: Alessio Bugno

One to watch: Brad Potts

Carlisle United

BBC Radio Cumbria's James Phillips: "The Cumbrians have designs on the League One play-offs this year after just missing out last season.

"The loss of striker Francois Zoko to Notts County this summer is a blow, but experienced signings, such as Mike Edwards and Danny Cadermarteri, give United a maturity they perhaps lacked in the run-in last term.

"Exciting Italian wing-back Alessio Bugno has thrilled fans having joined in pre-season - and several first year pros have shown glimpses of major potential emerging from the youth ranks.

"More signings are also expected before the end of the summer transfer window."

Colchester United

Manager: John Ward

Last season: 10th

Best summer signing: Magnus Okuonghae

One to watch: Freddie Sears

Colchester United

BBC Radio Essex's Glenn Speller: "Colchester flirted with the play-offs last season without ever seriously threatening a run of wins to get them into the top six. But a 10th-placed finish should not be sniffed at by fans of a club whose gates rarely break 4,000 and have drastically reduced the playing budget.

"Manager John Ward is the man dealing with the transitional period and, while overseeing a move to a new training ground with state-of-the-art facilities, he is also charged with keeping their heads above water in League One.

"Persuading Magnus Okuonghae to sign a three-year deal could prove key and the expected exodus of players has not materialised, giving hope for a decent campaign."

Coventry City

Manager: Andy Thorn

Last season: 23rd (Championship)

Best summer signing: John Fleck

One to watch: Jordan Clarke

Coventry City

BBC Coventry & Warwickshire's Geoff Foster: "Back in the third tier for the first time in 48 years, the Sky Blues will be considered as one of the favourites for promotion.

"The squad has lost several players, including the key defensive partnership of Richard Keogh and Martin Cranie, and with finances still a major obstacle, manager Andy Thorn has mainly recruited youngsters and free transfers.

"Cody McDonald and Gary McSheffrey should stand out in League One, Adam Barton will be determined to get his career back on track after recovering from an horrific injury, while John Fleck's form in pre-season gives hope that he will provide some much-needed goals from midfield.

"A tilt at the play-offs should be on Coventry's radar."

Crawley Town

Manager: Richie Barker

Last season: 3rd (League Two)

Best summer signing: Shaun Cooper

One to watch: Hope Akpan

Crawley Town

BBC Sussex's John Barnett: "It's been an eventful summer following the seemingly excellent appointment of Sean O'Driscoll as manager, but he would only stay two months. Richie Barker has been lured from League One rivals Bury to take over, and his knowledge of the division will be crucial.

"The quality of football has been pleasing on the eye pre-season, under all three managerial regimes, but this is a step into the unknown for the Red Devils following back-to-back promotions. However O'Driscoll recruited well in his short tenure and they do have plenty of League One experience.

"They do need additional firepower up front though, with Barker already lining up potential targets. If they can add this and reward their attractive style with goals, they should finish in a comfortable mid-table position."

Crewe Alexandra

Manager: Steve Davis

Last season: 7th and play-off winners (League Two)

Best summer signing: Abdul Osman

One to watch: Max Clayton

Crewe Alexandra

BBC Radio Stoke's Graham McGarry: "Crewe ended the season in spectacular style by winning promotion to League One via the play-offs which saw them go 19 games unbeaten.

"Crewe's upturn in fortunes coincided with the arrival of Steve Davis as first team manager last November.

"Davis has made five summer signings and they all look capable of making an impact this season, and Abdul Osman adds competition in the midfield department.

"He will be keen for the squad to maintain the momentum gained from that Wembley success, and with his new additions he will be looking for his team to make an impression in the higher division."

Doncaster

Manager: Dean Saunders

Last season: 24th (Championship)

Best summer signing: Rob Jones

One to watch: Kyle Bennett

Doncaster Rovers

BBC Radio Sheffield's Rob Staton: "This has been a summer of transition for Rovers, and a difficult one for manager Dean Saunders. Some high profile players have moved on and so far he's not been able to bring in sufficient replacements.

"Quality remains within the first team, but the type of injury crisis that hurt Doncaster in recent years would be disastrous for this small squad.

"Rob Jones will add much needed leadership after helping Sheffield Wednesday to promotion last year, but more players will need to come in. This season is about recovering from relegation and preparing for the future."

Hartlepool United

Manager: Neale Cooper

Last season: 13th

Best summer signing: Steve Howard

One to watch: Luke James

Hartlepool United

BBC Sport's Matt Newsum: "Hartlepool lacked goals last season, as 50 from 46 league games suggests, but boss Neale Cooper has addressed the issue with the signing of Leicester's Steve Howard.

"The 36-year-old returns to Pools after a 13-year absence to link up with teenager Luke James - who emerged last season as an exciting talent.

"With chairman Ken Hodcroft running the club on a tight budget, further signings had to be shrewd, in the shape of ex-Leeds man Simon Walton and the promising Jonathan Franks.

"Like most League One middle-tier clubs Pools can beat anyone on their day, but it is consistency they must find if they are to scrape into the play-offs."

Leyton Orient

Manager: Russell Slade

Last season: 20th

Best summer signing: Nathan Clarke

One to watch: Moses Odubajo

Leyton Orient

BBC London 94.9's Dave Victor: "Russell Slade is determined to avoid another relegation battle. The Orient boss has brought in eight new players, with Nathan Clarke being appointed as club captain following the experienced defender's arrival from Huddersfield.

"O's supporters will be hoping for an improvement on last season's dismal home form, but of greater concern is the uncertainty surrounding the future of the neighbouring Olympic Stadium.

"Chairman Barry Hearn will fight to protect Leyton Orient's best interests and in doing so will probably make bigger headlines than the players."

MK Dons

Manager: Karl Robinson

Last season: 5th

Best summer signing: Ryan Lowe

One to watch: Jay O'Shea

Milton Keynes Dons

BBC Three Counties Radio's Paul Dixon: "For once it's been a relatively quiet summer at Stadium MK with every member of last season's playing staff retained and some useful additions brought in by Karl Robinson.

"Jon Otsemobor will take the previously problematic right-back role while Ryan Lowe should add even more goals to a side that found the net over 100 times last term.

"With a limited budget and up against some big spending rivals a play-off place has been acceptable in the past, but this time you feel anything less than automatic promotion will be seen as a failure."

Notts County

Manager: Keith Curle

Last season: 7th

Best summer signing: Gary Liddle

One to watch: Francois Zoko

Notts County

BBC Radio Nottingham's David Jackson: "Having taken over towards the end of last season, Keith Curle's now had time to assemble his own squad and he's made some interesting signings.

"There are the solid defensive players like Dean Leacock, Manny Smith and Gary Liddle to contrast with the unpredictability of players like Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Francois Zoko.

"Notts should be strong enough in defence but their hopes of challenging for the play-offs will depend on whether they have enough up front to score goals regularly."

Oldham Athletic

Manager: Paul Dickov

Last season: 16th

Best summer signing: Lee Croft

One to watch: Daniel Taylor

Oldham Athletic

BBC Sport's Phil Cartwright: "Despite a poor run of results towards the end of the campaign, including a run of five successive defeats without scoring, Oldham finished comfortably in mid-table last season.

"Key to their success in 2012-13, in what will be the Latics' 16th consecutive year in the third tier, will be Dean Furman and James Wesolowski.

"Both have signed new contracts at Boundary Park this summer and manager Paul Dickov says they have the potential to be the best midfield partnership in League One, provided they stay injury-free.

"Up front, new signing Daniel Taylor will be handed the task of replacing last season's top scorer Shefki Kuqi, while Lee Croft's experience will be crucial in helping a young squad improve on last season's 16th position.

Portsmouth

Manager: Michael Appleton

Last season: 22th (Championship)

Best summer signing: Simon Eastwood

One to watch: Ashley Harris

Portsmouth

BBC Sport's Emlyn Begley: "For Portsmouth to even start the season is a success in itself. They looked likely to go bust for much of the summer and only made it after jettisoning all of their senior players.

"However on the field, it is going to be a long season for Michael Appleton's side. They started in the cup with a virtual youth-team and their league opener will be a mix of youth and players on short-term deals.

"With a 10-point deduction coming when the club leave administration, survival would represent an amazing accomplishment by Appleton. However just playing Plymouth in their League Cup opener was their major goal this summer."

Preston North End

Manager: Graham Westley

Last season: 15th

Best summer signing: David Amoo

One to watch: Jeffrey Monakana

Preston North End

BBC Radio Lancashire's Phil Cunliffe: "Since taking charge in January, Graham Westley has torn his squad apart in a bid to instil a winning mentality at Deepdale. But with only three league victories to date, some fans are still to be convinced he is suited for the job.

"Less than a handful of players from the previous regime remain, while star midfielder Paul Coutts joined Derby County over the summer.

"With 14 new recruits on board, including ex-Liverpool youngster David Amoo, Preston have built a completely new team. Time will tell if they are better than the players Westley inherited.

"North End missed the play-offs by 19 points last season and should they fail to make the most of some winnable early fixtures, Westley could find himself under pressure again."

Scunthorpe United

Manager: Alan Knill

Last season: 18st

Best summer signing: David Mirfin

One to watch: Sam Slocombe

Scunthorpe United

BBC Radio Humberside's Matt Dean: "Alan Knill really has put his mark on the team this summer. His first full season at Glanford Park felt very transitional and several players recruited by the previous regime have now moved on to be replaced by a younger breed.

"The hope is it'll transform the way the side plays with a more athletic approach, and the return of David Mirfin appears a masterstroke.

"However, going in to the season, I still feel a striker with a bit of pedigree is needed to provide stronger competition up front. I'd expect that would make a big difference in helping the side go from last season's draw specialists into play-off contenders. "

Sheffield United

Manager: Danny Wilson

Last season: 3rd

Best summer signing: Nick Blackman

One to watch: Joe Ironside

Sheffield United

BBC Radio Sheffield's Andrew Giddings: "The Blades have once again been installed by many as promotion favourites after last season's play-off final heartache. If they are to get promoted it could come at the end of a very bumpy ride.

"It's half-way through August now but there is still a good chance that Danny Wilson could see a lot of changes to his playing personnel before the transfer window closes.

"Wilson has made some good signings and got his side playing good football last year, if the signings do the business then they'll finish in the top six at least."

Shrewsbury Town

Manager: Graham Turner

Last season: 2nd (League Two)

Best summer signing: Paul Parry

One to watch: Connor Goldson

Shrewsbury Town

BBC Radio Shropshire's James Bond: "Graham Turner has surprised many with major surgery on his promotion-winning squad, but is quietly confident Shrewsbury can make a fist of it up in League One.

"Among a raft of new signings, keep an eye on creative midfielder Paul Parry, the former Welsh international who turned down a new contract at Preston, and striker Ryan Doble who's looking to come out of the shadows at Southampton, while at the back, Darren Jones is a big no-nonsense guy who swept the board at Aldershot's awards night last season.

"And after top scorer James Collins's move to Swindon, expect Marvin Morgan to tease a few opposition defences."

Stevenage

Manager: Gary Smith

Last season: 6th

Best summer signing: Greg Tansey

One to watch: Luke Freeman

Stevenage

BBC Three Counties Radio's Steve Watkins: "Gary Smith has had to re-build substantially since the end of last season as he looks to stamp his mark on the squad.

"For the first time in three seasons they play in the same division as the previous year, and the majority of the squad that saw success from the Conference upwards have now departed.

"Smith will bring a new playing style to the club, but with so many new faces, it is likely to be a lengthy process to get the right blend.

"The Stevenage fans will demand a continuation of the success of the last four to five seasons, but they might just have to face up to the realisation of mid-table consolidation."

Swindon Town

Manager: Paolo Di Canio

Last season: 1st (League Two)

Best summer signing: James Collins

One to watch: Wes Foderingham

Swindon Town

BBC Wiltshire's Chris Wise: "Paolo Di Canio has been given sizeable financial backing to achieve back-to-back promotions. Following the success of last season, most fans firmly believe momentum could be key in helping the team secure a place in the Championship.

"The squad has been improved once more over the summer. The arrivals of James Collins and Andy Williams will give the team goals, while midfielders Tommy Miller, Alan Navarro and Gary Roberts have the experience of League One football, as does defender Troy Archibald-Henville.

"Crucially, Town have kept the core of their promotion-winning squad. Paul Caddis and Matt Ritchie are capable of playing in a higher division while Wes Foderingham, Alan McCormack, Simon Ferry and Paul Benson offer genuine quality to a highly-talented squad."

Tranmere Rovers

Manager: Ronnie Moore

Last season: 12th

Best summer signing: James Wallace

One to watch: Andy Robinson

Tranmere Rovers

BBC Radio Merseyside's Derek Jones: "Tranmere's strong finish to 2011-12 saw them overcome relegation fears to finish in the top half of the table, and fans will be hoping for a further improvement.

"James Wallace's arrival from Everton as midfield general, and as a replacement as captain for the departed John Welsh, will ensure there is strong leadership on the pitch.

"The experience and skills of a rejuvenated Andy Robinson will also be a key factor in determining success.

"An impressive home record of only three defeats last season will need to be repeated if Ronnie Moore's side are to mount a play-off challenge."

Walsall

Manager: Dean Smith

Last season: 19th

Best summer signing: Dean Holden

One to watch: Febian Brandy

Walsall

BBC WM's Andrew Dawkins: "After the struggles of recent seasons, it would be hard to get too excited about the forthcoming campaign.

"The departures of Mat Sadler and Manny Smith have been a blow to the Saddlers' rearguard and the squad lacks experience in other positions.

"But the return of Florent Cuvelier on loan from Stoke is a major boost, after his arrival lifted the team last season.

"There have been some encouraging pre-season signs - and it is hoped the young players, including those who have learnt their trade at local clubs such as ex-Wolves winger Ashley Hemmings, have a point to prove."

Yeovil Town

Manager: Gary Johnson

Last season: 17th

Best summer signing: James Hayter

One to watch: Reuben Reid

Yeovil Town

BBC Somerset's Ed Hadwin: "Every year Yeovil are amongst the favourites for relegation, and yet here they are about to start their eighth consecutive season in League One.

"Gary Johnson has re-energised the club since his return to Huish Park in January, and has assembled a youthful, dynamic team which seems full of goals. There are some older heads too, and Jamie McAllister and Richard Hinds will need to play well to make up for the departure of defensive rock Paul Huntingdon.

"They ended last season in fine form, and while talk of play-offs seems optimistic, the idea that they are second favourites for relegation could well see the bookies end up looking silly yet again."