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Portsmouth boss Steve Cotterill eyeing better days

Portsmouth manager Steve Cotterill is looking to the future — and the npower Championship opener at Coventry — after the club's survival was secured in the High Court on Thursday.

Pompey avoided liquidation in their tax battle with HM Revenue & Customs and Cotterill is looking for a positive result on the pitch as well despite having a threadbare squad at his disposal.

He said: “We're short of numbers, but it only takes 11 to win a game. We've got to look after the best 11 and the fittest 11 we have available. If we put out a strong 11, we might do okay.

“It's been very difficult. But come 3pm on Saturday there will be a good buzz.” The other two sides relegated from the Barclays Premier League last season are also in action, with Burnley hosting Nottingham Forest and Swansea the visitors to Hull's KC Stadium.

Clarets boss Brian Laws is awaiting “a big season” and said: “I can't wait. It's all or nothing on that first day.

“A lot of things happened last year. We need to tighten up and hopefully we've achieved that.”

Veteran Tigers midfielder Nick Barmby, who has also taken a coaching role this season, is also targeting a push for a top-flight return.

He said: “There are probably at least 12 or 14 teams challenging for those play-off and promotion spots and hopefully we can be one of them.

“I expect us to be in the mix — this is a fresh start.”

Leeds and Millwall entered the division from the opposite direction this summer along with Norwich, whose clash last night with Watford represented the start of the Football League season.

Leeds host Derby and boss Simon Grayson said: “We are playing with less pressure in some respects, having had that expectancy of promotion in League One. But we're pushing to get back to where this club deserves (to be).”

The Lions travel to Bristol City while Middlesbrough, who will be expected to challenge after a summer recruitment drive, open their campaign at home to Ipswich.

Big-spending QPR begin their own promotion push at home to Barnsley while Crystal Palace host Leicester, Doncaster travel to Preston and Reading take on Scunthorpe in the day's other fixtures.

Belfast Telegraph


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