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Coming Down: Charlton, Hull, and Wigan - what’s going on with Sunderland new League One opponents?

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Charlton, Hull, and Wigan are set to be relegated into League One for the 2020-21 season. But what’s going on with these clubs behind the scenes, and who are the players to watch?

Oxford United v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Charlton Athletic

A team with serious ownership issues, the EFL announced recently that they require immediate talks with the owners of Charlton, ESI, or they could face expulsion from the EFL.

Having only been promoted back in 2018, after beating the Lads at Wembley, Charlton have consequently been relegated immediately after finishing 22nd. Despite being in the lofty heights of 19th in mid-February, the Addicks failed to secure any points from their four games pre-lockdown, leaving them sitting in 22nd - 2 points from safety. They were not able to help their cause post lockdown either, picking up 9 points from the final 9 games, which was the 18th best in the league. This wasn’t enough to save Charlton, though.

This form will not have been helped with newly out of contract and top goal scorer Lyle Taylor refusing to play the remainder of the club’s games with fear of getting injured. Alongside him, on-loan midfielder David Davis and club legend Chris Solly have left the club since.

The aforementioned messy ownership situation means they are currently under a transfer embargo. Eight players whose contracts were extended to finish the season due to Covid are currently in limbo, and further to this, Charlton could lose five loanees including SAFC winger Aiden Mcgeady. Charlton are threadbare at present.

Indeed, it looks scary for Charlton, but this does not mean they do not have any quality in the remaining players. Macauley Bonne scored 11 in the Championship last season, the same amount of goals as Lyle Taylor. At the other end of the pitch, Dillon Phillips started every game and should be able to make a great showing in goal for the Addicks should he still be at the Valley come the end of the window.

This is a situation to keep an eye on, as I am not sure there will be a lot of movement this window at Charlton due to the precarious ownership situation.

Charlton Athletic v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship - The Valley Photo by Daniel Hambury/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Hull City

A running theme here is how poor the ownership situations are at the clubs that were relegated. Hull have had a pretty dire relationship with their owners and have gone through some tough times - including the failed changing of the teams’ name to ‘Hull Tigers’ in December 2013.

The Tigers were outside the relegation spaces pre-lockdown but ended up finishing at the bottom of the table due to only accruing 4 points after the resumption of football.

Hull parted ways with five players during the pause in games due to failing to extend their contracts. This includes significant first team players such as Jackson Irvine and Eric Lichaj who had made 35 and 29 appearances in the league respectively.

After the final game, Hull released their retained list which saw a further 4 players released. These included former Liverpool youngster Kevin Stewart and Spanish attacking midfielder Jon Toral. As a result of these exits, players signed for somewhere in the region of £20 million have all departed the KCOM.

Nevertheless, Hull City will still have 19 players on their books after their loanees return to their parent clubs. These include former Sunderland captain George Honeyman. George played 42 games for the Tigers, with half of these off the bench.

The main threat at the top end of the pitch is target man Tom Eaves, somebody who was linked with Sunderland last year. He scored 5 in the league last season from 40 games with 22 starts. Malik Wilks was a bright spark for Hull with 1 goal in almost every 3 games; as such, he scored the same amount of goals as Tom Eaves.

At the back Hull have a young defence, which showed its inexperience a fair amount last season and conceded 87 goals - the most in the league. Their 8-0 loss to Wigan is a prime example of the defence’s fragility. Following the release of Eric Lichaj, they only have two defenders over the age of 25. Further to this, they only have four players remaining at the club over 25 - none are over the age of 28.

I believe this will change during this window, with the money from selling former top scorer Jarrod Bowen to West Ham still there, and the need for experience and goals, Hull could splash some cash. I fully expect them to be fighting for top a top six spot next season depending on the level of investment. If not, I see a solid mid-table finish for the Tigers.

Hull City v Chelsea FC - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Wigan Athletic

Wigan are only joining Sunderland in League One because of their owners deciding to enter the club into administration mere days after taking control. This has resulted in them taking a 12 point reduction and seeing them relegated in 23rd position.

Since this was announced, manager Paul Cook has resigned, leaving the club without direction on the pitch nor in the boardroom. They will be looking for any funds they can from sales and will likely be cashing in on their playing assets to help ease financial concerns.

After a solid mid-table finish, the third best record from the turn of the year and fourth best since lock-down, Wigan fans will believe, that even though they are down, they have a squad capable of bouncing back at the first try. This will be determined however, if they can retain most of their squad while the administrators are looking for a buyer.

If Wigan are able to keep top-goalscorer Kieffer Moore and key players like Jamal Lowe and Nathan Byrne who played 46 and 39 games respectively, with the former getting 6 goals and 5 assists in the process, then Wigan stand a healthy chance of fighting for promotion.

Wigan have a lot of young players coming through their ranks right now, too. Joe Geldhart is at the forefront of this, making 18 appearances last season at the age of 17. He is heavily linked with Championship title-winners Leeds at the moment, but could be a key player for years to come if they can keep hold of him.

Wigan do not have many players out of contract this summer, with Anthony Pilkington being the biggest name. This will give Wigan hope that they will have a strong squad without much investment.

Should Wigan keep the majority of their current squad I would predict Wigan to finish in the top 4 and be fighting for automatic promotion.

Wigan Athletic v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images