With the new Sky Bet League Two season approaching and the highly anticipated return of full capacity stadiums, here is everything you need to know heading into the 2021/22 campaign, with VAVEL UK's guide to the fourth tier of English football.

  • The newcomers

As with every new season in League Two, there are six new sides ready to challenge in a new division, with four looking to bounce back from the dismal feel of relegation from League One, whilst two look to hit the ground running when making the step up from the Vanarama National League.

Rochdale

Nickname: The Dale

Ground: Spotland Stadium (10,249)

Manager: Robbie Stockdale

Last season: 21st in League One 

Key player: Eoghan O'Connell

Northampton Town

Nickname: The Cobblers

Ground: Sixfields Stadium (7798)

Manager: Jon Brady

Last season: 22nd in League One

Key player: Mitch Pinnock

Swindon Town

Nickname: The Robins

Ground: The County Ground (15,728)

Manager: Ben Garner

Last season: 23rd in League One

Key player: Jack Payne

Bristol Rovers

Nickname: The Gas

Ground: Memorial Stadium (12,269) 

Manager: Joey Barton

Last season: 24th in League One

Key player: Luke Thomas

Sutton United

Nickname: The U's

Ground: Gander Green Lane (5013)

Manager: Matt Gray

Last season: 1st in the National League

Key player: Enzio Boldewijn

Hartlepool United

Nickname: The Poolies

Ground: Victoria Park (7858)

Manager: Dave Challinor

Last season: 4th in the National League (Promoted via the play-offs)

Key player: Nicky Featherstone

  • Title contenders

There’s always that one team who take the league by storm and are brilliant enough to lift the silverware at the end of the season; who could that be this year?

Salford City

The Ammies have been on quite the upwards spiral since the Class of '92 took over in 2014, but their promotion spree has come to a standstill since their promotion to the Football League.

With Gary Bowyer at the helm and a squad boasting with talent, such as Ian Henderson and Josh Morris, Salford are a side to keep an eye out for this season.

Bradford City

Despite taking Morecambe to League One for the first time in their history, manager Derek Adams has opted a switch for Yorkshire with Bradford.

A roster of new signings, a new refurbished look upon the stadium, 12,000 season tickets sold and a promotion expert of a manager, it's an exciting time to a Bantams supporter with the club seemingly only heading in one direction.

Newport County

After coming so close last season and for so many years, this might be the year that Michael Flynn's Exiles take that extra step.

Newport have so far brought in 11 new faces with further signings expected, and certainly aren't lacking quality. With plenty of depth and skill all over the pitch, as well as a manager who has proven he knows how to get the best out of his players, the Exiles will be hoping to avoid the play-off process all together this season.

Tranmere Rovers

The return of Micky Mellon as manager has got Tranmere fans itching with excitement ahead of the new campaign, and it's hard to blame them.

With 12 new faces through the door and even a new badge along with it, Rovers have built a promotion-challenging squad, and with Mellon back at the helm it's something he knows he can do from this division. Along with that, Tranmere showed their quality in pre-season by defeating a strong Rangers side.

Along with every title challenge, there’s the battle of the play-offs too.

Port Vale

The Valiants have recruited sensibly throughout the Summer, bringing in the likes of Jamie Proctor and Ryan Johnson, but Darrell Clarke’s men are promotion contenders if there end-of-season form is anything to go off of.

Clarke’s side lost just two of their final 11 games last campaign, and nearly broke into the play-offs but inevitably ran out of time before the end of the season. 

The ambitions have been set this year, and with Clarke’s own signings and squad which he has built, it’s a season for hope for the Vale.

Forest Green Rovers

A fantastic last season which unfortunately came crashing down towards the latter end, the Green Devils will be itching to set the record straight.

The departure of long term manager Mark Cooper was an understandable one with Forest Green on a down slide, but their defeat in the play-offs was softened by the appointment of manager Rob Edwards.

Edwards hasn’t brought in too many new faces but has proven he has a collective level of trust in the current squad, but the club have had a positive pre-season by losing just two of their six friendlies.

Walsall

Last season was less than enjoyable for Walsall fans, but there’s a certain buzz around the club this season.

The appointment of Matthew Taylor was welcomed, but it’s the level of signings that the Saddlers have brought in that has brought the excitement, with 11 new faces, including the likes of Joss LabadieAsh Taylor and Manny Monthe.

Mansfield Town

The Stags have been disappointing in recent seasons, but it’s time for a fresh start for Mansfield.

With Nigel Clough at the helm and a strong playing squad, Mansfield look like a force to be reckoned with, as Clough has brought in nine new players, including the power of Ollie Hawkins and Danny Johnson. With firepower like that up top, it’s expected that Mansfield should be setting their targets high.

Exeter City

The club who have come so close and unlucky in recent years with the play-offs, Exeter will be hoping to take that extra step this year.

With star player Matt Jay being elected as captain and ten new faces through the door, it’s an exciting time to be a Grecian fan with quite the rebuild going on. 

With Matt Taylor at the helm and a strong squad being built, Exeter will look to right the wrongs of last season and to this time break into the play-offs.

Leyton Orient

Whilst they may not be fancied by many, Leyton Orient are a club on the rise, and are a sneaky tip for promotion this season.

The appointment of former Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett was a fantastic one to replace the outgoing interim manager Jobi McAnuff, but it’s the quality of signings that the O’s have completed that has raised eyebrows.

The likes of Connor WoodDarren PratleyOmar Beckles and Paul Smyth are all players capable of playing in League One, but have instead opted to join Leyton Orient. With a manager as talented as Jackett and a squad as strong as the O’s, it’s hard not to be intrigued by the prospects of this team.

Colchester United

Another side who will be looking to right the wrongs of last season are Colchester, who majorly underachieved last campaign.

However, the arrival of four different experienced, proven Ipswich Town players is enough to get the fans excited, with the quality of the playing squad massively improving across the Summer.

  • The relegation candidates

Relegation is a damaging fate that no fan or club ever wants to suffer, but as usual, there will be an unlucky two dropping out of League Two at the end of the season.

Barrow

The Bluebirds are rightly excited for their first ever season in the Football League with supporters, especially with the appointment of former Forest Green manager Cooper.

But with fourteen players leaving the club and seven new faces coming through the door, the squad is looking thin and a plague of injuries could damage any good run that Barrow need. Nevertheless, the Bluebirds defied expectations last season, and it’s likely that could happen again.

Harrogate Town

A similar situation to Barrow as the two were promoted together last year, Harrogate will also be looking towards their first Football League season with fans.

The Sulphurites have done well in holding onto a number of key players, and have even brought in some good players, but the club’s stature and lack of financial wealth may come back to bite them compared to some of the richer clubs in the division. 

Oldham Athletic

We feel it’s best to start off this segment the same way we did last year-  it’s never a dull day at Oldham Athletic.

The same applies this year, with the problems ongoing with the current owner, a stand still being clothes and with the clubs ninth different manager in three years, stability is badly needed at Boundary Park.

However, with an experienced manager like Keith Curle in charge and some promising additions such as Jayson Leutwiler and Hallam Hope, the Latics will be hoping to pull some strings and upset the odds this season.

Stevenage

A team who were fortunate to stay in the Football League two years ago, Stevenage surprised many by surviving so comfortably last season.

Alex Revell has done a fantastic job as manager so far, but the Boro haven’t strengthened their squad too much compared to the rest of the league and this could punish them. 

However, the signings of Jake Taylor and Jake Reeves could prove brilliant pieces of business with two experienced midfielders who can take this division by storm potentially.

  • The tip for top scorer

Matt Jay

If last season wasn’t enough for Exeter fans and Jay, this season expect even more.

The newly appointed club captain of the Grecians, the 25-year old had an excellent year last season, netting  18 goals in 44 games and finishing in the Sky Bet League Two team of the season.

Despite playing in either an attacking midfield position or up front, Jay is pivotal in the Exeter attack, and is involved in most forward moves for the club so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him picking up the golden boot this season.

Andy Cook

A player who seems to score goals everywhere he goes, Cook has had a fantastic start to his career at Bradford.

The forward netted seven goals in 11 games for the Bantams last season before his move was made permanent in the Summer, and even throughout pre-season the 30-year old has been bagging.

With Adams now in charge and a number of excellent wingers, such as Charles Vernam and Alex Gilliead, supplying the golden opportunities, you can back Cook to reach double figures and more.

James Wilson

The former Manchester United prospect has seemed a little lost since his United days, but may have found a new home in Vale Park.

Formerly of Salford City last season, Wilson didn’t exactly set the world alight but a new club and new tactics could bring the best out of the 25-year old.

Clarke knows how to get the best out of his strikers and Wilson should be no exception.

Ollie Hawkins

Depending on where Clough opts to play his new striker, Hawkins could be a real asset to Mansfield this season.

Standing at 6”6, Hawkins has had recent spells with Portsmouth and Ipswich Town in League One, but was most prolific whilst at Aldershot Town in the National League.

The towering forward can bully defenders and should hope to do so in this division, creating opportunities but also netting them himself, especially if long-ball becomes a tactic the Stags adopt.

What are your predictions for the new League Two season? Let us know on Twitter @VAVEL_EFL.