Ray Wilkins expects Norwich City to shine during Championship return
- Credit: PA
Norwich City look well set to launch a major Championship promotion push, says respected Sky Sports pundit Ray Wilkins.
The former England international feels Alex Neil has a squad to target an instant Premier League return along with fellow relegated rivals Newcastle.
The Magpies' have already signalled their intent with the signings of Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie but Wilkins points out the second tier experience at Carrow Road as a major factor.
'Without being disrespectful to them I think Norwich is best-equipped of the teams who came down to get back out of the Championship,' he said. 'Norwich had a squad with a lot of lads who had played in the Championship and know exactly what that level is all about. They were found out a touch in the Premier League but if they can manage to keep the majority of that squad together then you would expect them to be right up there.
'Newcastle will obviously be strongly fancied and Rafa (Benitez) has added British blood and I think they could bounce straight back too. But for both them and Aston Villa it is going to be a lot of upheaval and adjustment and they have a set of players who don't know what the Championship is like and how difficult a division it is.'
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New Derby County boss Nigel Pearson insists the Rams can challenge the relegated trio.
'For sure, there are some big teams in the league and that is increased with the clubs that came down from the Premier League,' he said. 'These will present different types of challenges and is the division harder this year? I don't know.
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'The Championship is traditionally a tough division and we see that year after year. The bottom line is, really, that our yardstick is ourselves and first and foremost we have to get the best out of our players.'