Stoke City are Dean Ashton’s ‘bold prediction’ for a top six spot this season.
The former striker, who was on Stoke’s books as a youth before being whipped up the A500 to join Crewe, is an EFL pundit these days and regularly joins Colin Murray for the highlights show on Quest on Saturday evenings.
He expects relegated duo Norwich and Watford, along with losing play-off finalists Brentford, to set the pace this season.
But he likes the look of Michael O’Neill’s transfer business – particularly the signing of Steven Fletcher – on the back of the manager’s work since taking over at Stoke last November, even if that was just to keep the club in the Championship.
So he says they are his dark horses to be up and fighting at the other end of the Championship this time around.
“My bold prediction is Stoke to go up,” he said in an interview with PlanetFootball, in which he also talks about how he might have moved back to Stoke from West Ham in 2009 if only he had bit fit enough.
“I think if you look at Michael O’Neill’s record since he come in, it’s more like play-off form.
“A couple of additions that he’s bought in, Steven Fletcher especially, I think could be key.
“I think they’ll get in the play-offs. Whether it’s automatic, time will tell, but I’d expect them to get in the play-offs and have a chance of promotion.
“They would be my outsiders. At the moment I would expect Watford, Norwich and Brentford to all be too strong and I could see them three surging ahead, but that might depend on if any of their players get sold.”