After a 15th-placed finish in last season’s Championship campaign, there’s been little focus on Blackburn Rovers as possible promotion candidates this time around.
However, a trio of excellent buys – including a former Championship winner – means Owen Coyle’s men could be the underdog to back for promotion at 16/1.
Let’s start with Anthony Stokes – the man who won this league with Sunderland almost a decade back, and bagged the ninth trophy of his career in May, scoring twice in Hibernian’s Scottish Cup final, as they ended a 114-year wait for the trophy.
Having already scored 109 times during his time north of the border, the 27-year-old looks like a superb acquisition, especially when you consider that Rovers have picked him up on a free transfer.
But he’s not the only impressive freebie that the savvy Coyle has picked up this summer.
Experienced striker Danny Graham – who spent the latter half of last season on loan at Ewood Park – is back permanently. The 30-year-old has already found his feet in Lancashire with four goals in as many games at the close of the last campaign, including a delightful double against Bristol City.
And the new duo up front are likely to receive excellent service from Liam Feeney, who joins from beleaguered local rivals Bolton Wanderers having produced 14 assists during the last two seasons and established himself as a rare gem in the Trotters ranks.
There’s also added strength in depth from the loan acquisitions of West Ham youngster Stephen Hendry and Manchester City’s talented young Irishman Jack Byrne.
However, perhaps the most important acquisition Rovers have made this summer is Coyle himself. The 52-year-old won promotion from this division with Burnley in 2008-09, and isn’t short on contacts, having managed in England, Scotland and most recently, at MLS outfit Houston Dynamo.
Blackburn welcome newly-relegated Norwich to Ewood Park on the opening day, with 15/8 for Coyle’s charges to taste victory. An imperious display to begin the season could well see those odds for promotion – and the giant 50/1 for them to win the Championship – quickly tumble.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing