FIXTURES: Paul Jewell says promotion challenge will be as tough as ever for Ipswich Town

IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell says the challenge of getting out of the Championship next season will be as tough as ever.

The Blues will kick off the 2012/13 campaign as the longest serving team in the division having been in the second tier since 2002.

They face newly-relegated Blackburn Rovers at Portman Road in their league opener, before concluding August with tough trips to bogey side Watford and last season’s beaten play-off finalists Blackpool.

With Town one of 18 clubs in the Championship who have played Premier League football, Jewell said: “It doesn’t matter who you play on the first day of the season or the last in this division, you know it’s going to be a hard game.

“There are plenty of big clubs in this division who will feel they have the stadium and facilities worthy of the Premier League and getting back to that level will be the aim.

“The Championship is one of the most competitive leagues in the game and I lost count how many times I said that anyone can beat anyone in this league last season.

“It will be just as tough next year, possibly even tougher. You’ve got Sheffield Wednesday coming up, who are a massive club. Huddersfield have shown their ambition and Charlton were playing in the Premier League not so long ago.

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“They will all look to build on the momentum of last season and we have seen Norwich and Southampton benefit from that over the last two years. It’s going to be a real battle, we know that, but it’s one we’re looking forward to taking on.”

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