Championship Preview: Lennon and Jokanovic to make bows

14 October 2014 21:24

New Bolton Wanderers boss Neil Lennon has talked up a promotion push already – despite his side sitting bottom of the league.

Bolton have lost their last four Championship matches and prop up the division with just five points in 11 matches, leading to Dougie Freedman’s departure earlier this month.

But Lennon – who left Celtic at the end of last season after a four-year reign that saw him win three Scottish Premiership titles, two Scottish Cups and reach the UEFA Champions League last 16 – is confident he can steer the club in the right direction.

Lennon’s first task is a winnable home clash against Birmingham City, who sit 20th with 11 points, on Saturday and Lennon is hopeful victory will help to build the momentum required to exit the relegation zone.

“I’ve got a big job on my hands, but I’m very excited,” Lennon said.

“There is a good core of players here within the squad. We’re 14 points off the play-offs at the moment and we are capable of doing it, but we need to find some consistency and momentum.

“The reality is we are where we are with five points and we’ve got to try and get out of the bottom three first and then build from there.

“Hopefully we can start at Birmingham on Saturday. I think we have got good players here and the structure of the club is fantastic.

“We’ve got everything you need for Premier League football – never mind Championship football.”

Former Chelsea midfielder Slavisa Jokanovic also takes charge of his first Championship match this weekend when the third-placed Watford visit Sheffield Wednesday.

Jokanovic – Watford’s fourth manager in less than two months – has replaced Billy McKinlay, who, farcically, lasted just eight days in charge.

Jokanovic, 46, joined Watford from Hercules in Spain and has won titles in Serbia as Partizan Belgrade boss.

Watford’s off-field turmoil has not been reflected on the pitch, but Wednesday are sure to test them.

Nottingham Forest remain unbeaten in the Championship and sit second, but have been hit by injury blows to Andy Reid (groin) and Jack Hobbs (ankle) ahead of their clash at Cardiff City.

Leaders Norwich City, meanwhile, go to relegation-threatened Fulham in a clash of two sides who dropped out of the Premier League last term.

Leeds United coach Darko Milanic is still searching for his first win – and it could come in Friday’s Yorkshire derby at Rotherham United.

Blackpool’s first win of the season came earlier this month and they take on Huddersfield Town.

Elsewhere, Charlton Athletic – who are also undefeated after seven draws in their first 11 games – go to AFC Bournemouth, while Brighton and Hove Albion do battle with Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town meet Blackburn Rovers.

Fourth-placed Derby County head to Reading and Millwall host Wolverhampton Wanderers in other matches.