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Fixture News

Championship preview: Bolton, Millwall & Sheffield United

21 June 2017

Nottingham Forest will have new visitors to The City Ground next season, with six teams entering the Sky Bet Championship for the 2017-18 season.

Sheffield United, Bolton Wanderers and Millwall all return to the Championship after winning promotion from League One last season. Here, we take a look at how they are shaping up ahead of the upcoming campaign.

Bolton Wanderers

Stadium: Macron Stadium (Capacity: 28,723)

Manager: Phil Parkinson

Owner: Inner Circle

Last season: 2nd (League One)

Bolton Wanderers bounced back at the first time of asking, sealing promotion back to the Championship in second place.

Led by Phil Parkinson in his first season at the club, The Trotters only had a one-year stay in League One – their first time in the division since 2000-01.

Chairman Ken Anderson said: “We must not underestimate the difficulty of the challenges which lie ahead of us and the Sky Bet Championship has certainly moved on in our year away from the division, particularly in regards to the relegated teams coming down from the Premier League alongside television monies and parachute payments.

“With the capable and fully focused management team and supporter base we have here at the club however, I believe that we will be in a very strong position to compete next season.”

The club have added key players with Championship experience for next season in full backs Andrew Taylor and Mark Little, as well as striker Adam Le Fondre who ended last season on loan at the Macron.

Forest edge the head-to-heads between the two sides with 33 wins to Bolton’s 31, and The Trotters’ last three visits to Trentside have all seen thumping wins for The Reds.

A 3-0 win in August 2013, a 4-1 victory in February 2015 and another 3-0 in January 2016, in the last meeting between the two, is impressive form for Forest, with Bolton having a man sent off on all three occasions.

Millwall 

Stadium: The Den (Capacity: 20,146)

Manager: Neil Harris

Owner: Millwall Holdings

Last season: 6th (League One)

After losing in the play-off final in 2015-16, Millwall bounced back superbly and banished the painful memories by winning at Wembley in 2016-17.

The 1-0 win over Bradford, thanks to a late Steve Morison strike, sealed The Lions’ spot in the Championship for the upcoming campaign, much to the delight of manager Neil Harris.

He said: "The play-off final is what defines your season. We had 90 minutes to define our season and I believe if we hadn't beaten Bradford in the final our season would have been a failure.

"That's why when the final whistle went I just felt relief for all of us. Then the celebrations started and to watch my players celebrate on the pitch was surreal. That is something they will remember forever."

Millwall will be looking for an extended stay in the division after regularly swapping between the Championship and League One. Harris has brought in two highly-rated players in League One last season, with James Meredith joining from beaten play-off final opponents Bradford and powerful striker Tom Elliot joining from AFC Wimbledon.

Clashes between Millwall and Forest have been even over the years, with The Lions winning 21 to The Reds’ 24 and 20 draws. The two sides last met back in August 2016 as Forest won 2-1 in the EFL Cup second round at The Den.

Sheffield United

Stadium: Bramall Lane (Capacity: 32,702)

Manager: Chris Wilder

Owner: Kevin McCabe

Last season: 1st (League One)

Sheffield United romped to the League One title last season, ending a tough six-year stay in the third tier. Three of those years ended in play-off heartbreak but former player Chris Wilder guided The Blades back into the Championship in his first season as manager.

Wilder has moved quickly to strengthen his squad ahead of his first season at this level, having previously managed Oxford United and Northampton Town in the EFL. Nathan Thomas has signed from Hartlepool, while defenders Enda Stevens and George Baldock have joined from Portsmouth and MK Dons respectively. Former Blade Ched Evans has also returned to the club after signing from Chesterfield.

Wilder said: "I would hope that the owners trust me to spend the money wisely, as I have done previously and as I will do moving forward.

"We will be competitive and we will be ambitious. I don't want to have someone on a lot more than anyone else, but at the same time the players understand the bar rises and although we know players will cost more we will remain sensible."

Sheffield United and Forest have met 116 times in all competitions with the two sides level on 43 wins apiece. The last meeting was in the FA Cup in 2013-14 as two late Chris Porter goals knocked The Reds out in the fifth-round.


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