TAHARKA TAYLOR - Friday, August 5, 2011
The English lower leagues begin play this weekend as Jonathan Spector looks to settle in at Birmingham and Robbie Findley gears up for his first full season at Nottingham.
Derby County - Birmingham City
Jonathan Spector will make his Birmingham City debut on Saturday and is expected to be in new manager Chris Hughton's starting eleven as the Blues travel to take on Connor Doyle and Derby County in an exciting Midlands derby.
Doyle is likely to start on the bench but should see his share of action this season after emerging onto the scene last year making fourteen appearances for the Rams.
Birmingham have their eyes set on a return to the premier league after last season's disappointing finish. However Hughton will be without three of his four primary strikers to start the season, Nikola Zigic and Marlon King are out due to groin and knee injuries respectively while Cameron Jone will miss Saturday's opener due to a heel problem.
Derby County also start the season with their share of injuries carried over from the pre-season, summer signing Nathan Tyson is doubtful after suffering a groin injury in Wednesday's final pre-season match up against Aston Villa while Paul Green and Shaun Barker have both been ruled out with knee injuries.
Nottingham Forest - Barnsley
Robbie Findley could be in Steve McClaren's starting eleven as Nottingham Forest kicks off their Championship season at home against Barnsley on Saturday.
Findley has spent the preseason in good health, competing for the number one striker spot after a pesky thigh injury limited him to just two appearances for Nottingham Forest since his move last winter.
Jermaine Jenas has been ruled out with an undisclosed injury.
Walsall FC - Leyton Orient
Anton Peterlin will likely be on the bench but could make his Walsall debut on Saturday as the club host Leyton Orient to start the League One season.
The San Francisco native will look to contribute in midfield right away at Walsall after signing with the club over the summer.
Wallsall narrowly avoided relegation back in May but will look to improve upon last years 20th place finish with a revamped core of players.
Carlisle United - Notts County
Frank Simek and Carlisle United open up their League One season at home against Notts County.
Simek will start in defense for Carlisle, the American was stalwart in defense last season logging over 4,000 minutes in 46 appearances.
Carlisle defender Peter Murphy as well as striker Craig Curran are expected to be in the lineup for Saturday's opener despite both being pulled from a recent friendly due to injuries sustained in the match. However, forward Paddy Madden is out for three months after breaking a bone in his foot in the pre-season.
Southend United - Hereford United
Jemal Johnson joined the list of Americans plying their trade in England when he signed with League Two Southend Untied in early July.
The speedy winger should start in Saturday's match up at home against Hereford United.
Southend are Johnson's 10th team since leaving Blackburn Rovers in 2006. The 26-year-old made elven appearances scoring one goal for Bulgarian powerhouse PFC Lokomotiv Sofia in 2010.
Rotherham United - Oxford United
Jon-Paul Pittman arrived at Oxford United over the summer after helping Wycombe Wanders earn promotion in 2011.
Despite making 77 appearances for Wycombe in the last two and a half seasons, Pittman missed much of last season with a knee injury.
Pittman's has since recovered and the Oklahoma native looks to be a influential figure for Oxford this season.
Mike Grella will likely not take the field on Saturday when Leeds United begin their season with a visit to FC Southampton.