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Coming Up: Crewe, Northampton, Swindon & Plymouth - Who are Sunderland’s new League One foes?

Four new teams arrive from League Two into Sunderland’s division - Crewe, Northampton, Swindon and Plymouth. What can we expect from each of them - who will be our toughest opponents?

Crewe Alexandra v Morecambe - Sky Bet League 2 Photo by Alan Hayward/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Crewe Alexandra

Crewe to me look like a team that are the face of ‘togetherness’ in a squad.

Their squad consists of a lot of exciting academy graduates who really like to get on the front foot. This has stemmed from a manager who has bought into this in David Artell, and has driven and grown alongside this squad, helping them to gain promotion last season.

Alongside side this, a huge factor at the time of writing is the fact that none of the above have been picked off - players such as Perry Ng, Tom Lowery and Harry Pickering, with the latter signing a new deal with the club.

There is a lot to look at and feel positive about with this squad. They have brought in ex-SAFC academy product Mikael Mandron, a target man who will need someone to feed off. In order to benefit him, they have also brought in Offrande Zanzala, a 22-year-old from Accrington Stanley with a 1 in 5 record. They both have the ability to play off one another and to learn and grow as the majority of both their careers are in front of them rather than behind them. They are both young with experience, albeit not a lot in this league, and will be happy to join such a dynamic, young and energetic squad.

I am looking forward to seeing this team in action this year and fully believe they already have the quality to stay up, as long as no major players depart before the end of the window.

Crewe Alexandra v Port Vale - Sky Bet League 2 Credit: Simon Newbury | MI News

Northampton Town

The team that wins the play-offs usually has a tough time when trying to stay up the next season. For Northampton Town it will be especially difficult, having started the Carabao Cup game against Cardiff City with only three players that started in the play-off final - they’ve let go of several major players, such as Alan McCormack and Jordan Turnbull - the latter scoring five goals from defence and choosing to drop back into League Two to join Salford.

However, the biggest loss will have been Charlie Goode, who was sold to Brentford for over a million. They’ve signed Cian Bolger and Luka Racic, a player who came the other way from Brentford on loan for the season.

The biggest question for Cobblers’ fans will be whether they have the quality to cut it in this division. They have Nicky Adams who created the most for them with 13 assists. However, as he’s closing in on 34, does he have the legs for the league, and is he able to create and carry a team who will need his goals? I am not so sure. Sam Hoskins is the remaining top goal scorer from last season with only nine.

Somehow, I don’t think it will be enough to save them from a return to the fourth tier.

The addition of Benny Ashley-Seal is an interesting one. He came through some of the top academies in the country but has never been given the opportunity to prove it at senior level. He will feel he has something to prove, but whether he can remains to be seen.

I don’t believe Northampton have what it takes to stay up this season, and can see them struggling throughout as the lowest of the promoted teams.

Northampton Town Training Session
Losing Charlie Goode has been a blow
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Plymouth Argyle

Plymouth should comfortably survive in this league. They look safe, structured, and with Ryan Lowe at the helm they look dangerous.

The loss of Antoni Sarcevic will hurt them, as he scored 10 and created 6, but they have made a huge signing by bringing in George Cooper from Peterborough permanently to play on the left side. He got 12 assists last season in League Two, and whilst I’m not convinced he’ll be as big a threat in League One, he’s still a dangerous player.

Following the loss of Sarcevic, it will be down to Lowe to get goals from strikers. Nouble and Hardy on loan are ones that will need to fill that void. Personally, I do not believe either will be prolific and Lowe will still be looking at his midfielders to score goals and rescue points, but if the strikers are able to help turn into providers, it may favour Argyle better.

Argyle have been shrewd in their dealings and it is obvious that Lowe is buying talent to fit the system which has got him out of League Two twice.

Personally, I see a successful season for Lowe - perhaps even a midtable finish.

Macclesfield Town v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

Swindon Town

The formidable strike force of Eoin Doyle and Jerry Yates scored 38 league goals between them out of the 62 that Swindon’s squad bagged in total. This season, neither of them will be playing for The Robins but instead for Bolton and Blackpool respectively. Keshi Anderson has also moved on, joining Yates at Blackpool - the dismantling of such a talented forward line is sure to have a knock-on effect going into the new campaign.

Despite this, Swindon boss Richie Wellens has managed to keep the majority of the rest of the squad together. They’ve even made Diallang Jaiyesimi’s loan from Norwich into a permanent deal - a forward-thinking player with the potential to grow.

They’ve also brought in Brett Pitman - a bit of a sh*thouse, someone who needs the right deliveries and will cause mayhem in and around the box, and is renowned for doing so. Whether he can recreate the goals left by the two departures is highly unlikely, and he will therefore rely on a lot of help from the incoming Jonny Smith on loan from Bristol City, and Jack Payne, who has arrived from Lincoln.

Realistically a top half finish is probably a stretch, but I see them being safe. Swindon are a hard to break down team with a lot of creative drive.

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