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Now and 14 months ago

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The present squad, plus one or two, knows that in two months time they will face a big challenge. How does the 2011-12 squad compare with the team which began the 2010-11 season in the Championship?

I think that the answer is pretty well.

The core of the team know each other''s games by now and they have a successful season behind them. That is important, if they want to get a flying start.

Some have improved enormously - Martin R., Ruddy, Fox, Jackson, in particular. They have all "upped" their game, and, who knows, could do it again.

The defence has been strengthened - Barnett, Tierney and now de Laet, while Whitbread seems to have put his injuries behind him.

The attack has been improved, from Holt and a.n.o to four top class strikers - Holt, Jackson, Vaughan and Morison. There will be competition for places, and if any cannot reach the required standard for some reason, there are others waiting.

In the midfield there will be improvement in the arrival of Bennett, and Johnson if he signs.

All this and there could be two more signings, and if we spend the kind of money we have already on them we should add quality.

We can be cautiously optimistic, especially if the new men can be moulded into a team where each works tirelessly for the team. We are no threat to the big money teams, although we could cause upsets, but we ought to be more than a match for some of the lesser teams.

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