Championship season preview: Aussies set to shine

There will again be a distinct Aussie flavour when England’s Championship gets underway this weekend.

Six established Caltex Socceroos will play key roles for their clubs, who will all harbour ambitions of trying to gain promotion to the Premier League.

CHAMPIONSHIP WATCH: QPR's pre-season summary

CHAMPIONSHIP WATCH: Aston Villa's pre-season summary

Here’s a look at all the key information you need to know ahead of what should be another dramatic 46-game regular season plus the play-offs to decide which three teams will make the EPL.


With Wolves, Cardiff City and Fulham now in the Premier League, the new season promises to be fairly open.

Of the three clubs relegated from the EPL, Stoke City and West Brom are among the favourites to bounce back at the first time of asking, although only nine of 30 clubs have managed to do just that in the last decade.

Tony Pulis’ reputation for getting results means his Middlesbrough side, which were beaten in the playoffs last season, are one of the favourites.

Boro’s former manager Aitor Karanka is now in charge of Nottingham Forest and broke the club’s transfer record to bring in the likes of Joao Carvalho and Tobias Figueirerdo from Portugal.

Of the Aussie contingent, Mile Jedinak’s Aston Villa should be around the playoff picture again while Massimo Luongo’s QPR will have high expectations under new boss Steve McClaren.


Jack Grealish was a key figure in Villa’s charge to the playoffs last season and the 22-year-old will again be vital for Steve Bruce’s side.

One of the most gifted playmakers in England, Grealish was all set for a move to Tottenham before the deal collapsed, which is a huge boost for the Villans.

Striker Matej Vydra is a proven goalscorer at this level and if Derby boss Frank Lampard can get the best out of the Czech hitman, then the Rams will be in for another bumper campaign.

CHAMPIONSHIP WATCH: Hull City's pre-season summary

CHAMPIONSHIP WATCH: Millwall's pre-season summary

Shaun Hutchinson plays alongside James Meredith at Millwall and is one of the best young centre-backs in the division. A major reason why the Lions went close to making the playoffs last season.

Lewis Grabban scored 20 goals across loan spells at Sunderland and Aston Villa last season is one of Forest’s major signings and could be a bet for the golden boot should the side from the City ground perform.

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)


One of just six clubs to win a Premier League title, Blackburn Rovers are back in the Championship after just one season in League One.

They join last season’s League One champions Wigan Athletic and Rotherham as the newly-promoted sides.

The trio replaces Sunderland, Burton Albion and Barnsley who finished in the Championship’s bottom three in 2017/18.


Mile Jedinak – Aston Villa

Last season’s beaten playoff finalists, Villa’s off-season has been overshadowed by an ownership change, with little news in terms of major additions in the transfer window.

After an injury-plagued start to the last campaign, Jedinak was a rock in Villa’s surge to the Wembley final, scoring the only goal in the semi-final win over Middlesbrough. His presence in the middle of the park – or possibly at centre-back where he played at times in 2017/18 – could again be crucial for Bruce’s men.

Villa’s opening match of the season against Jackson Irvine’s Hull City will be shown live in Australia on beIN Sports 2 next Tuesday, August 7 at 4.45am.

Massimo Luongo – QPR

QPR were plagued by inconsistency last season, hurting any hopes they had of reaching the playoffs.

But with a new manager at the helm in McClaren, they’ll aim to be at the right end of the ladder this time around, especially if they can make Loftus Road a fortress.

Luongo was named the club’s Player of the Year in 2017/18, scoring six goals, assisting three and creating 45 chances in his 39 league appearances.

He’s QPR’s main man in midfield now, mixing his excellent passing and late runs into the box with his tackling.

James Meredith - Millwall

The Lions were surprise-packets in their first season back in the Championship in 2017/18.

The challenge for manager Neil Harris will be trying to get his squad – which punched above their weight – to replicate those performances again.

One man they can look at to produce is Meredith, who was a model of consistency at left-back, starting every league game last season.

He was always looking to join in to attacks from deep while Meredith was also towards the top of the Championship tackle charts, making 110 with more than half seeing him directly come away with possession of the ball.

Jackson Irvine – Hull City

Hull were one of the favourites for promotion last season but struggled to produce, only avoiding a relegation scrap with some key wins late in the campaign.

They’ve lost a number of key players in the pre-season, without bringing in any established signings meaning it’s hard to see them improve significantly.

But in Irvine they have a midfielder in the peak of his career. It was a stop-start season for the 25-year-old last campaign,  ending his first 12 months at the club with three goals and six assists.

He also made an impact off the pitch, named the Tigers’ PFA Community Champion for the 2017/18 season for his work visiting and supporting Community projects.

Bailey Wright – Bristol City

The Robins looked on course for the playoffs before Christmas but fell away badly in the second-half of the season to miss out on the top six.

With key players Aden Flint and Bobby Reid moving on, manager Lee Johnson faces a tough task to keep them in the top-half of the table.

Bailey Wright continues to skipper the club and has emerged as a real leader of men, playing at either right-back or the heart of defence.

After missing out on a spot in Australia’s squad for Russia, he’ll be fresh and extremely motivated to start the new season strong.

Bailey Wright
Bailey Wright (Bristol City)

Adam Federici – Stoke City

Stoke are newcomers to the Championship after their relegation from the Premier League.

New manager Gary Rowett – who has come to the club from Derby – knows what it takes to be successful at this level and has inherited a top-class squad with more than enough talent to win promotion.

Federici has joined the club from EPL side Bournemouth looking for more first-team action.

England keeper Jack Butland appears to be the no.1 for now but is still being linked with a move to another club, which would be great news for the Aussie gloveman.

Other Aussies in the Championship:

Jordan Lyden (Aston Villa)

Ben Folami (Ipswich Town)

Ryan Williams (Rotheram United)