Wanderers will face a battle in the toughest Championship yet next season but are more than capable of success.
That’s the view of injured defender David Wheater who believes the Whites can bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt, despite the strength of the opposition.
Next season’s second tier includes 18 teams who have Premier League experience – that is three quarters of the division including Wanderers who will be yearning to regain their place at English
football’s top table.
Wheater is confident his team-mates will thrive on that competition, and with the return of long-term absentees Chung-Yong Lee and Stuart Holden to Owen Coyle’s armoury, the North East man is
backing his team-mates to live up to their billing as one of the promotion favourites.
Wheater, who is not expected to be back from a cruciate ligament knee injury until the new year, said: “They are all big clubs in the Championship and almost all have played in the Premier League
at some point.
“Everyone is fighting to play in the Premier League; it’s where everybody wants to be.
“It’s going to be a very tough season but I think we can be successful.
“We should be one of the favourites and it’s up to us now to go out and perform.
“Relegation was hard, and tough on everyone, especially the fans because they want to see the Premier League players coming to the Reebok every week.
“It’s our job now to bounce back. We need to start brightly and get the results to get back into the Premier League.”
With the summer transfer window opening at midnight tonight, the Whites boss is already close to the double deals of Keith Andrews and Matt Mills.
And Wheater accepts squad changes were always likely after relegation ended an 11-year stay in the top flight.
But the return of Lee and Holden will be like new signings in 2012/13.
He added: “A lot of the lads were out of contract this summer anyway so I think there was always going to be departures.
“That means other people coming in and, with my injury, others do need to come in.
“But Chungy and Stuart were our biggest misses last season.
“I think if we’d had both of them, we wouldn’t have been relegated.
“They are the two players that make everything tick in the team.”
One player who has left the Reebok Stadium this week is Robbie Blake who has joined Doncaster Rovers in League One.
And his new boss Dean Saunders believes the 36-year-old will prove an asset despite only starting four games in his two years with the Whites.
Saunders said: “I know Robbie well having played alongside him at Bradford and he's a genius at times.
“Obviously he's at the end of his career, but we'll get the fitness coach working with him and I'm confident he'll be an asset for us in League One.
"He's brilliant on the ball and still has an incredible appetite for the game."
BLOB Wanderers have confirmed the earlier 7.45pm kick-off for the televised home clash with Nottingham Forest on Friday, July 24 is a one-off due to Sky. Evening games not on live TV will still
kick-off at 8pm as normal.