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League One Preview - Carlisle, Charlton, Colchester, Dagenham

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Part two of my League One pre-season preview.

Carlisle United
Stadium: Brunton Park (16,981)
Manager: Greg Abbott (since November 2008)

Transfers In: Sean McDaid (Doncaster Rovers) - free, Jason Price (Millwall) - free, Craig Curran (Tranmere Rovers) - free, Frankie Simek (Sheff Weds) - free, James Berrett (Huddersfield) - free
Transfers Out: Richard Keogh (Coventry City) - 100,000, Tom Aldred (Watford) - free, David Raven (Shrewsbury Town) - free

To Win League One: 80/1
To Be Promoted: 20/1
To Be Relegated: 7/2

Saints' Wembley opponents have had a mixed summer in the transfer market. Richard Keogh has departed for Coventry and Tom Aldred to Watford, but they have been replaced with a decent amount of experience in the shape of Jason Price, Craig Curran and Frankie Simek, the latter appearing to be a real coup for the Cumbrians - if he can get back to anything like the form he showed in spells at Sheffield Wednesday, they've got themselves a bargain.

Defensively, Carlisle look relatively solid, Adam Collin in goal showed on a number of occasions last season that he's a very able stopper at this level, and with Simek and the evergreen Ian Harte marshalling the back four, they'll be hard to beat. Their problem comes at the other end of the pitch. Ian Harte was their top scorer from centre-back with 16 league goals - comfortably his best ever return in a single season - and only Joe Anyinsah, in and out of the side under Greg Abbott, really came close with 9.

Graham Kavanagh was an influential player in midfield last time around, but he's likely to feature less this season as he looks to concentrate more on his coaching, and with a handful of decent-looking youngsters breaking through, he'll be looking to pass his experience onto these players. I don't expect Carlisle to struggle this season mainly as they won't lose many games, however don't expect them to be particularly great to watch. Jason Price is a stereotypical lumbering lower-league targetman, so he'll be expected to win plenty in the air for others to pick up the pieces from, so it probably won't be particularly pretty.

Last Season: 14th
Prediction: 11th

Charlton Athletic
Stadium: The Valley (27,111)
Manager: Phil Parkinson (since November 2008)

Transfers In: Gary Doherty (Norwich) - free, Alan McCormack (Southend United) - free, Johnnie Jackson (Notts County) - free, Kyel Reid (Sheff United) - free, Akpo Sodje (Sheff Weds) - free
Transfers Out: Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool) - 1.7m, Matthew Spring (Leyton Orient) - free, Darren Randolph (Motherwell) - free, Stuart Fleetwood (Hereford) - free, Frazer Richardson (Southampton) - 450,000, Nicky Bailey (Middlesbrough) - 1.4m, Lloyd Sam (Leeds United) - free, Yassin Moutaouakil (released), Deon Burton (released), Chris Dickson (released), Izale McLeod (released)

To Win League One: 14/1
To Be Promoted: 9/2
To Be Relegated: 12/1

It would be fair to say it's been a tough summer for the Addicks. Amid reports of unpaid wages, the spectre of administration has loomed large for the majority of the close season. That has (so far) failed to materialise, but they have been forced to sell the majority of their key players. Jonjo Shelvey, mysteriously only a bit-part player last season, moved to Liverpool before the play-off defeat against Swindon, and then the man who missed the crucial penalty in that semi-final, Nicky Bailey, eventually completed a long-protracted move to Middlesbrough having also been linked with Saints and Norwich. Alan Pardew did get his hands on a player from his former club in the form of right back Frazer Richardson, who we'll have to wait a while to see as he dislocated his shoulder in pre-season training.

Charlton have gone for experience in their summer signings - all on free transfers - with Gary Doherty joining to strengthen the defence and Alan McCormack and Johnnie Jackson providing the energy in midfield. The defensive spine of the team still looks pretty strong on paper, but they now have serious worries at the other end. Deon Burton, Izale McLeod, Stuart Fleetwood and Lloyd Sam have all departed, leaving Leon McKenzie - predominantly a winger - and Akpo Sodje, signed from Sheffield Wednesday, to score the bulk of the goals. Without Bailey to score 12 goals from midfield, fans will be wondering exactly where their goals are likely to come from.

As a result, it's difficult to see them improving on last season's ultimately decent showing. They often flattered to deceive, grinding out results despite not looking anything special, but came up just short in the lottery of the playoffs. This season, they are noticeably weaker, but in a much weaker division they will probably have enough quality elsewhere on the pitch to scrape into the playoffs again.

Last Season: 4th
Prediction: 6th

Colchester United
Stadium: Weston Homes Community Stadium (10,000)
Manager: John Ward (since May 2010)

Transfers In: Lloyd James (Southampton) - free, Ben Coker (Bury Town) - free
Transfers Out: David Fox (Norwich City) - free, David Prutton (Swindon Town) - free, Scott Vernon (Aberdeen) - free, Clive Platt (Coventry City) - 50,000

To Win League One: 40/1
To Be Promoted: 8/1
To Be Relegated: 15/2

At Christmas, you'd find very few Colchester fans with anything to complain about. While Norwich had poached the very able Paul Lambert to great fanfare and disgust, they appointed a manager with Premier League experience. Unfortunately for them it was Aidy Boothroyd, but his frankly unpalatable tactics seemed to be working for the Us for the first half of the season where they were well in touch with the leaders. Unfortunately for them, it all started to unravel in the New Year, their one-dimensional tactics were found out and they couldn't buy a win for large parts of the spring. In the end, they will have been very happy to have finished 8th.

Then in the summer, they couldn't believe their luck - Coventry City, having sacked Chris Coleman, approached them to speak to Boothroyd. Permission was granted instantly, compensation agreed, and he was on his way to the Ricoh Arena. The offers from fans offering to drive him there must have been in the hundreds! However, that's as good as it's got for them, as they then appointed John Ward, a very old-school lower-league manager with a very similar style of play to Boothroyd but without the reliance on sports science to go alongside it.

They've only made one signing of note, Lloyd James making the switch to Essex after his somewhat surprise release from St Mary's, but assuming they play him in his best position in the centre of midfield, it's hard to imagine he'll actually see much of the ball. It's difficult to imagine them doing anywhere near as well as they did last season, key players David Prutton and Clive Platt have departed so a fairly weak side has been made weaker, so a continuation of the second half of last season seems most likely.

Last Season: 8th
Prediction: 18th

Dagenham & Redbridge
Stadium: London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Stadium (6,000)
Manager: John Still (since April 2004)

Transfers In: Stuart Lewis (Gillingham) - free, Gareth Gwillim (Histon) - free, Luke Wilkinson (Portsmouth) - free, Duran Reynolds (Grays Athletic) - free
Transfers Out: Danny Spiller (Gillingham) - free, Mark Nwokeji (AFC Wimbledon) - free, Anwar Uddin (Barnet) - free, Wes Thomas (Cheltenham Town) - free, Hakeem Araba (released), Alex Bentley (released)

To Win League One: 150/1
To Be Promoted: 33/1
To Be Relegated: 2/1

It's been something of a meteoric rise for the Daggers, and their opening day trip to Sheffield Wednesday will leave many of their players pinching themselves. Four years ago, they were preparing for their first game of the new Blue Square Premier season against Forest Green Rovers. Two promotions in four seasons sees them in the third tier of English football for the first time in their history. Unfortunately, it's likely to be a long, hard season for them.

John Still has worked miracles on a non-existent budget, but it's likely to be one step too far for him and his hard-working players. The way they brushed an impressive Morecambe team aside in the playoffs does illustrate the potential danger they pose, but the lack of depth in the squad is likely to be the main issue.

Two players stand out from the squad (predominantly players I've actually heard of and seen play!), the surely-collecting-a-pension goalkeeper Tony Roberts and enigmatic midfielder Darren Currie. Both have a wealth of experience throughout all four professional divisions, and will be vital if Dagenham are to have any chance of staying up. Currie will be the creative influence in midfield, hoping Paul Benson and Danny Green can repeat their double-figure goal hauls at the higher level.

There are a number of very poor sides in League One this season, so if they get off to a decent start, like Exeter did last season, then you never know, but I'm expecting a long hard struggle for the Daggers from start to finish this season.

Last Season: 7th in League Two
Prediction: 23rd

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