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League One is presenting a great opportunity for sides to burst through the pack to seal an unexpected promotion that would not have seemed possible last season, when the heavyweights of Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, along with the mightily impressive Plymouth Argyle, pulled clear to secure Championship football. That situation is reflected in the League One promotion odds with Reading, Blackpool and Wigan Athletic not coming down from the second tier in a particularly intimidating fashion for the rest of the third tier field.
Derby County and Bolton Wanderers have become the financial heavyweights of the division, with both sides securing the signatures of players with experience in the Championship in the summer window. Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic will be aiming for better fortunes this time around, the latter under new ownership, having missed out on the top six in each of the last three seasons despite the size and history of the two clubs. There are some big prices to consider in what is a very evenly-matched third tier, with some value outsiders jumping off the page when formulating angles for the League One promotion odds. You can also check out our League One top scorer odds piece for more value picks.
You can take on a £30 risk-free bet courtesy of Paddy Power, link below, for use on the League One promotion odds if you see fit.
Next natural step in Bolton Wanderers’ progression
There is a clear vision and long term plan in place at Bolton under the leadership of Ian Evatt. Evatt is heading into his fourth full season with the Trotters in which he has guided them out of League Two and secured a top six finish in the third tier. In terms of squad depth, and the quality of that depth and second string, the Trotters are right up there in League One and should strengthen further between now and the end of the window, with financial muscle aplenty to improve in January once again if they need to.
Wanderers finished fifth last season and in patches produced a level that made them look capable of competing for a top two position. With the strength of the sides at the top end set to decrease this term, Evatt will recognise the golden opportunity to pounce and seal a Championship return. James Trafford and Conor Bradley were key cogs last term on loan from Premier League sides, but they have recruited smartly to bring in Nathan Baxter from Chelsea and Josh Dacres-Cogley from Tranmere Rovers to address those areas.
Their movements in the loan market have been a resounding success in the last three seasons, with Evatt’s possession-based style of play an attractive one for high profile clubs to send their players to in aid of their development for a full season or six months. Expect this to be the case again, with just one loanee arriving so far, at the time of writing.
League One Promotion Odds
Can Paul Warne be Derby County’s League One cheat code?
Derby County narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season but are assembling a squad that could make a strong case to stay up in the Championship. The Rams are in good hands with Paul Warne at the helm, who won promotion from League One three times in his last managerial role, at Rotherham United. David McGoldrick and Jason Knight do leave holes in the side, but Warne is using his contacts and reputation to good use in the transfer market. It is clear to see why Derby are at the top of the League One promotion odds with the calibre of player they have brought into the club already this summer.
Josh Vickers and Conor Washington have arrived from the Millers, while Callum Elder, Sonny Bradley and Curtis Nelson strengthen the backline with a wealth of experience in higher divisions. Right wing back Kane Wilson is also a very eye-catching addition from Bristol City, with the Rams now able to pay transfer fees again. Eiran Cashin, Max Bird and Conor Hourihane are standout players in the division let alone just at Derby, and with the Pride Park faithful fully behind the manager and the hierarchy, top two is a realistic target.
They are one more statement attacking addition away from looking fairly bulletproof as contenders, a very healthy position to be in with so much time remaining in the window.
League One Promotion Odds
Blackpool flying under the radar despite Critchley return
Neil Critchley worked wonders at Blackpool in 2020/21 and 2021/22. First winning promotion from League One via the play-offs, after they were comfortably the best team in the league for the second half of the season, before ruffling some feathers around the Championship play-off picture in 2021/22 and securing a comfortable mid table position. In the summer of 2022 Critchley left to become Steven Gerrard’s assistant manager at Aston Villa, he then struggled in a brief spell at Queens Park Rangers, but was clearly not the root of the problem at Loftus Road.
Critchley’s returns to Bloomfield Road and inherits a squad that is largely similar to the one he worked wonders with, there are plenty of survivors. They have added strong leadership and League One pedigree in Oliver Norburn, while the likes of CJ Hamilton, Jordan Gabriel and Kenny Dougall have thrived at the level in the past. It may take some time, but if Critchley can create the same environment at the club as he did previously, they could become serious top two contenders.
Talismanic forward Jerry Yates is a huge player for the Tangerines to lose, having secured a move to Swansea City, but if they can act smartly in the market they can build a frightening forward line around the likes of Shayne Lavery, Hamilton, and Jake Beesley is one to keep an eye on if he can improve on his availability from the last 18 months. The youthful nature of the squad suggests that Critchley should be able to extract high levels of buy-in from early on in the campaign. The Tangerines’ price in the League One promotion odds could be drastically shorter come the end of the transfer window.