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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 1 November, 2014

The promoted 3: Can Swansea, Norwich and QPR stay in the Premier League?

QPR and Norwich return to the Premier League after years in the lower leagues, while Swansea are the new kids. We look at their chances of survival as the season kicks off…

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on Sky Sports...
Just when you thought it was safe to turn on Sky Sports...
Image: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

Swansea:

A mixed summer for Brendan Rodgers, who admitted last April that his side was not quite to take on trips to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge.

Allowing Darren Pratley to leave for Bolton on a free transfer was a mistake as he was the driving force in the Swans’ midfield last year. Dorus de Vries, meanwhile, joined Wolves at the end of his contract – meaning that Rodgers was facing into the biggest season of his career without a first choice goalkeeper.

There have, however, been some encouraging signings. Wayne Routledge has always been more Jason Wilcox than Aaron Lennon but he showed flashes of brilliance during some rare outings for Newcastle last term. ‘Keeper Jasper Cillessen could come in from NEC Nijmegen as the latest much vaunted Dutch netminder, or the more prosaic yet equally solid Lee Camp will join.

Luckily for Rodgers and Swansea, bigger clubs have decided to let Scott Sinclair prove himself able for the top flight, before the inevitable rush for his signature in January or next summer.

His 19 league goals – and hat-trick against Reading in the play-off final – gained his side promotion. Much as losing him is a nightmare scenario for the Welshmen, if he turns the heads of the bigger fish it will only be as part of a group of successful novices.

Transfers out: Dorus De Vries (Wolves, free); Darren Pratley (Bolton, free), Alberto Serran (Larnaca, free); Scott Donnelly (Wycombe, loan).

Transfers in: Danny Graham (Watford, £3.5m); Jose Moreira (Benfica, free); Steven Caulker (Spurs, loan); Leroy Lita (Middlesbrough, £1.75m); Wayne Routledge (Newcastle, £2m, subject to medical).

Odds of relegation: 8/15

Norwich:

We’ve been reading a lot about Norwich last, abject Premier League campaign. However, a season that ended without an away win in the league six years ago hardly has any relevance now.

The Canaries are flying (sorry about that) after successive promotions, with Paul Lambert earmarked as the next great manager to come out of Scotland. They have managed to keep hold of the vast majority of the players that saw them clinch second place in last year’s Championship, while the new arrivals bring youth if somewhat unproven quality.

The best of these is neither James Vaughan nor the former Millwall striker Steve Morison, but Elliott Bennett. The former Brighton winger is just 22 and has been a revelation in pre-season, providing assist after assist for the likes of Morison and fan favourite Grant Holt.

Should Elliott be able to raise his game to the level of the Premier League and Lambert prove as canny an operator as he has done in the lower leagues, Norwich might just prove to be the new West Brom or Wigan.

They will need defensive reinforcements to augment the untested Kyle Naughton and Richie de Laet (four PL appearances between them) but Wigan, Stoke and West Brom represents three winnable early games for a side that should be brimming with confidence.

Transfers out: Henri Lansbury (Arsenal, end of loan).

Transfers in: James Vaughan (Everton, £2.5m); Steve Morison (Millwall, £2.8m); Elliott Bennett (Brighton, undisclosed); Anthony Pilkington (Huddersfield, £2m); Bradley Johnson (Leeds, free). Richie de Laet (Manchester United, loan); Kyle Naughton (Spurs, loan).

Odds of relegation: 8/13

QPR:

There’s a distinct whiff of ‘who cares?’ about QPR’s promotion back to the Premier League after an absence of 15 years. Distasteful owners, a prima donna midfielder and a repugnant manager will not make them favourites with any neutrals.

Their summer transfer non-activity, thus far, suggests that this season could turn out to be as glorious a failure as last term’s was a success.

Kieron Dyer and Danny Gabbidon have not been professional footballers for 56 years, while Jay Bothroyd has never performed to his best in a top flight.

Adel Taarabt, at least, seems like he’s staying but the mouthy Moroccan is a transfer request waiting to happen.

Neil Warnock’s unique brand of smiletalking paranoia will grind those same gears left behind by Ian Holloway in 2010/2011, and an ownership wrangle involving a set of billionaires who’d rather be playing with their toy cars leaves the rest of us hoping to get rid.

Transfers out: Gavin Mahon, Pascal Chimbonda (both released).

Transfers in: Kieron Dyer (West Ham, free); Jay Bothroyd (Cardiff, free); Danny Gabbidon (West Ham, free)

Odds of relegation: 13/8

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