Rotherham United boss Paul Warne insists a top six finish in League One will be no mean feat.
The Millers, who start their campaign at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, are among the bookies’ favourites for an instant return to the Championship.
But Warne, who has overseen a big turnover of players this summer, says his revamped side will face plenty of tough competition back in the third tier.
“Obviously, as we sit here now, we’re aiming for the top six,” said Warne.
“But I think it was Nigel Clough who said the other day he thinks there are 18 teams who think they’ll get in the top six – so 12 of us are going to be disappointed.
“There’s some really good teams [in League One] this year.
“I might be wrong but I don’t think the Championship is as strong this year as it was last year.
“But I think League One is.
“Portsmouth have obviously done some good business so they look really strong. Peterborough look really strong. Sunderland will be strong. Ipswich will be strong. Burton will be strong. Bristol Rovers are stronger. Blackpool will fancy their chances.
“I just think there’s a lot of good teams.
“For us to get in the top six will be a big ask but obviously if we finish seventh, if you ask me has it been a successful season, then no it hasn’t because we haven’t achieved what we tried to do.
“But then last season we tried to survive and we didn’t but at the end of the season I didn’t have any shame. We gave it our best.
“If there’s six better teams than us, and above us, there’s no complaints from me. But hopefully there isn’t six.”
Rotherham head into their opening fixture on the back of encouraging friendly draws with Leicester City and West Brom.
New arrivals at the New York Stadium include Plymouth striker Freddie Ladapo, Newcastle United playmaker Dan Barlaser and experienced Wigan midfielder Shaun MacDonald.
“Pre-season has gone really well and we’ve recruited pretty well,” said Warne.
“We’re still a couple short but we got some bodies in, so that was good.
“We’ve lost a lot of players but brought some in. We’ve probably got a sharper squad so to speak.
“I’ve been happy with what the lads have done in pre-season but more importantly I’ve been happy with how they’ve got on because they’ve got to spend the next ten months together.
“The best compliment I can give them is that the new lads look like they’ve been here for a long period of time so in that respect I’m really pleased.”
Warne is currently ‘playing a waiting game’ on three bids for centre backs and also wants to add another forward before the League One transfer window shuts on September 2.
New signing Trevor Clarke faces around five weeks out with a knee injury, but Billy Jones, Matt Crooks and Jamie Lindsay were all expected to return to training today.