Portsmouth look the team to beat in League 2

Paul Cook
Paul Cook
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Portsmouth look the team to beat in League Two after a summer of big investment.

The 2014/15 campaign was not even over when Pompey began putting the pieces of their promotion plan in place for this season, approaching Chesterfield in April for permission to speak to their manager Paul Cook.

A compensation package brought Cook from north-east Derbyshire to the south coast the following month, after the Spireites were beaten in the League One play-offs, and a glut of signings followed – most of whom are capable of playing a level above.

Cook, who won the League Two title with Chesterfield in 2014, has strengthened Portsmouth’s defence with the acquisition of Enda Stevens and Christian Burgess while Kyle Bennett and Gary Roberts, who came with Cook from Chesterfield, provide the guile in midfield.

Meanwhile, Adam McGurk, who helped Burton win the League Two title last season, and Jayden Stockley look a daunting proposition up front.

The sale of star performer Jed Wallace to Wolves is an obvious, but expected, loss but unlike last season Pompey should be more than capable of living up to their billing as promotion favourites.

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Luton narrowly missed out on the play-offs last time but they might be the team to push Portsmouth.

The Hatters have also recruited heavily over the summer and the likes of Cameron McGeehan, Scott Cuthbert, Magnus Okuonghae, Paddy McCourt and Danny Green look astute additions at this level, so John Still’s men are expected to be right up there come the final reckoning.

Wycombe, Plymouth and Stevenage, with Teddy Sheringham now in his first managerial role, will all look to feature prominently again after seeing their promotion dreams dashed in the play-offs in May.

Behind Luton, who finished eighth last season, come the likes of The Shrimps, Newport, Exeter, Northampton and Oxford and they all have a sizeable gap to close if they are to be involved in the promotion shake-up, so the remaining few places may be contested between the division’s newcomers.

Teams promoted from the Conference traditionally do well when coming into the Football League so Barnet and Bristol Rovers look decent bets to maintain their momentum.

Of those relegated from League One, Notts County look better equipped than Crawley, Leyton Orient and Yeovil.

The signing of Jon Stead is a real coup for the Magpies but it will be interesting to see how overseas additions Gill Swerts, Mawouna Amevor, Genaro Snijders, Kyle De Silva, Julien Jenner and Filip Valencic adapt to League Two.

Hartlepool staged their own ‘Great Escape’ last season and will want to avoid another relegation scrap. With a completely new squad in place, a top-half finish could be a realistic target under Ronnie Moore.

Likewise Mansfield, who also only just survived by the skin of their teeth. Adam Murray, in his first full campaign in charge, has completely overhauled his squad and the Stags look like they can look forward to a season without struggle.

Accrington are usually tipped to go down; they have faced such predictions since returning to the Football League in 2006. But they should defy the odds again while mid-table obscurity may also await Dagenham and AFC Wimbledon once more.

Cambridge, 19th in 2014/15, have recruited quite well this summer and a marked improvement may be on the cards but that may not be the case for Carlisle and York - who finished 20th and 18th respectively last season.

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