EFL pundit George Elek says League One is “there for the taking” next season – but admits James Trafford and Conor Bradley will be hard to replace at Wanderers.

Ian Evatt's men finished fifth this season and came up just short against Barnsley in the play-off semi-final, losing the two-legged tie by a single goal.

Elek believes the Whites are among the early favourites for next term but insists they must be smart in the transfer market to mitigate the losses of Trafford and Bradley, who have returned to Manchester City and Liverpool respectively.

He also reckons Barnsley are in a good place to push for the automatic spots next season following their narrow defeat against Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley.

Speaking on Not the Top 20 Podcast, he said: “If the league was to start tomorrow, you would be pretty confident (Barnsley) would be the best team in it in my view.

“You are looking at Derby, who are probably going to have to recruit a lot of new players over the course of the summer. But even with the restrictions in place in terms of their transfer activity, they will still have a budget that should see them dominate the market at League One level.

“Bolton have lost two key players in Trafford and Bradley, they will have to recruit as well.

“With Barnsley, it feels like they have the players and form to be the best team as it is. But there are key personnel who you have to wonder whether or not they are definitely going to be there next season, (Michael) Duff certainly being one.”

Plymouth, Ipswich and Wednesday will all be playing in the Championship next season, with Wigan, Blackpool and Reading heading in the other direction.

Elek continued: “Losing Wednesday and Ipswich is massive, the two sharks in the league! Argyle had two seasons of being an exceptional League One side with just that blip at the back end of the season before last.

“You look at the teams coming down – Wigan already have eight points deducted. Reading are still managerless with a points deduction last season.

“Blackpool, Neil Critchley is back but it is hard right now to see why he would immediately get them back to being the side they were previously.

“Even the sides who have been promoted – I don’t think any of those teams are going to have massive expectations to punch up in the way that maybe Stockport would have done given the finances they have got.

“It is there for the taking in my mind. We have seen Peterborough transfer list basically their whole squad. It doesn’t feel like there are many good news stories right now in League One.”