Vincent Kompany will have given the Championship openers more than a cursory glance when releasing the EFL fixtures.
A Friday night game at the John Smith Stadium between beaten finalists from last season’s play-offs Huddersfield and relegated Burnley will lift the curtain on the 2022-23 campaign in English football’s second tier.
And this July 29 clash could prove crucial for Carlos Corberan’s Terriers and Kompany’s Clarets as both teams aim for promotion.
The past must be forgotten
Huddersfield were saddened to lose to Nottingham Forest in last season’s play-off final, losing 1-0 at Wembley.
Unsurprisingly, Corberan’s side will be eager to put together another strong promotion push.
As for Burnley, their six-year spell in the Premier League has come to an end and everything has changed at the club this summer, with former Manchester City skipper Kompany appointed manager.
The exhausted team is a concern
The Belgian, 36, faces a tough task as no less than six first-team players leave on free transfers, including James Tarkowski and Ben Mee, while goalkeeper Nick Pope has joined Newcastle.
Several areas of the squad need strengthening but there are doubts over whether the club have the necessary funds meaning Kompany will have to be smart in the transfer window and scrutinize loan deals and free agents .
It won’t be easy for Burnley to secure an instant return to the Premier League and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them beaten at West Yorkshire.
Owls to get started quickly
Similar to Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday also endured play-off heartbreak last season losing to Sunderland in the League One semi-finals.
With Wigan, Rotherham and the Black Cats now back in the Championship, the Owls should be one of the main challengers for automatic promotion and they can get off to a good start at home to Portsmouth on July 30.
Manager Darren Moore has already signed six new faces, including Will Vaulks, Michael Smith and David Stockdale, with more additions expected before the transfer window closes.
Portsmouth lost 4-1 to Wednesday on the final day of last season and it was Pompey’s away form that really hampered their progress, with just six road league wins recorded overall from 2021-22.
Carlisle will make a quick statement
For much of last season, Carlisle appeared destined for relegation from League Two.
But the appointment of Paul Simpson at the end of February resulted in a huge reversal of form.
Simpson, 55, led his side to six wins in his first seven games in charge, ultimately sealing the club’s status for another season, and he subsequently signed a three-year contract.
He knows the club well, having been player-manager from 2003 to 2006, leading the club to two promotions in that time, and he’s been busy in the transfer market.
Four players have been added to the ranks, including Leeds striker Ryan Edmondson, and there is every chance that Carlisle will kick off their campaign with a home win against Crawley on July 30.
The Reds struggled on the road towards the end of last season and they could struggle to get to Brunton Park, a venue they haven’t won since 2012.