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Wolves show hunger for survival

Posted 2nd July 2009

Punters have given Wolverhampton Wanderers the best chance of survival of the three promoted teams. This is partly due to their impressive Championship campaign last season, when they led from virtually start to finish, but also because they have been the most proactive newcomer in the transfer market. Mick McCarthy has recruited goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who sampled the Premier League with Reading and will provide decent cover to Wayne Hennessey.

Nenad Milijas has joined from Red Star Belgrade for around £2.5m and the powerful midfielder could make a big impact in the top flight. He is a regular for the rapidly improving Serbian national team and is a free-scoring central midfielder who can also play on the left.

McCarthy has been quick to take advantage of the financial strife endured by Southampton, pouncing on starlet Andrew Surman. The young midfielder was a rare bright spark in Saints’ disastrous campaign and should quickly start to repay some of his £1.2m fee and show why he was an England U21 international.

Wolves major signing is Kevin Doyle, who has joined for a reported club record fee of £6.5m. The Republic of Ireland hitman was always likely to leave Reading once they missed out on promotion last term and it is a sign of Wolves’ standing that he chose to go to Molineux rather any of the other top flight clubs who were interested.

Doyle is a proven Premier League goalscorer, having hit 13 goals in 32 appearances in 2006/07, and his goals could be the reason Wolves make their second Premier League spell last longer than their first.

Most relegated clubs go down without a regular scorer and Wolves certainly have the edge over their rivals in this department. Sylvain Ebanks-Blake has signed a long-term contract and his partnership with Doyle should guarantee goals.

Burnley have recognised the need for goals by recruiting Steven Fletcher from Hibernian for a club record £3m, although Owen Coyle will need to bolster the defence – 17 Championship teams conceded less than Burnley last season.

Birmingham City are about to embark on their sixth Premier League campaign and have the squad with the most top flight experience out of the three. Alex McLeish has concentrated on the defence, bringing in centre backs Roger Johnson, Scott Dann and Giovanny Espinoza, as well as goalkeeper Joe Hart, on-loan from Manchester City.

All three teams are likely to face a difficult season but I'd bet on Wolves to have given themselves the best chance of survival.