Sheffield Wednesday boss Dave Jones has predicted opening-day opponents Queens Park Rangers will be heavily involved in next year’s promotion shake-up.
Wednesday will travel to Loftus Road on August 3 for their maiden fixture of the 2013/14 Championship season against Harry Redknapp’s multi-national side.
It was last November Rangers appointed Redknapp as Mark Hughes’ successor but Redknapp, who worked with Owls chairman Milan Mandaric on two separate occasions at Portsmouth, could not save the London club from relegation.
Jones, a close friend of Redknapp’s, told The Star: “QPR will be the favourites to go back up with the financial clout that they have got. They will be fancied to do well because of the players they will be able to attract. It depends on who Harry keeps and who he sells.
“The Championship is a tough division so it would not have mattered who we had got in the first fixture.
“We did well to stay in the league last year and now we are looking to push on.”
Jones admits he is “surprised” Wednesday are on the road in their first and last matches of the season.
After travelling to QPR, who yesterday released former Wednesday loanee Jay Bothroyd, welcome Burnley to Hillsborough before a Yorkshire derby clash at Leeds United.
Jones added: “I don’t get excited when the fixtures are announced. I get a buzz when the season kicks off and we play our first game.”