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 By PA Sport

Sunderland begin Championship season at home to derby

Jermain Defoe
Sunderland kick off the new Championship season with a home game against Derby.

Sunderland's quest to return to the Premier League at the first attempt will begin a day earlier than their Championship rivals.

Relegated from the Premier League, up for sale, without a manager and in possession of a thinning squad, will kick-off the new English Football League season on Friday, Aug. 4 at home to Gary Rowett's Derby.

North-east neighbours Middlesbrough, also relegated but quickly looking forward under new boss Garry Monk, head to Wolves, also under new management in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Hull, the other side to go down and now under the care of former Russia and CSKA Moscow boss Leonid Slutsky, are away to Aston Villa, managed by their former boss Steve Bruce.

New Leeds manager Thomas Christiansen -- Monk's replacement after his resignation -- will start life in England at promoted Bolton on the Sunday, while fellow new boys Sheffield United are at home to Brentford and Millwall head to Nottingham Forest.

Playoff final losers Reading start at QPR, while beaten semifinalists Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham are away to Preston and at home to Norwich, under new boss Daniel Farke, respectively.

Elsewhere, Bristol City host Barnsley, Burton welcome Cardiff and Birmingham go to Ipswich.

The Sheffield derby returns after a five-year absence, with Wednesday and United meeting at Hillsborough on Sept. 23, while Monk's Nov. 18 return to Elland Road will be keenly noted.

In League One, Blackburn start life in the third tier for the first time in 37 years with a long trip to Southend on Aug. 5, with fellow relegated sides Rotherham and Wigan also starting on the road at Fleetwood and MK Dons.

Of the sides to come up, Portsmouth, under the new management of Kenny Jackett, kick-off at home to Rochdale, Doncaster host Gillingham and Plymouth head to Peterborough. Playoff winners Blackpool are at Bradford, who lost the League One final.

Charlton take on Bristol Rovers, Walsall head to Bury, Oldham meet Oxford, Shrewsbury are at home to Northampton and Scunthorpe meet AFC Wimbledon.

There will be a home start for Forest Green as they begin their EFL journey in League Two. Promoted from the National League, Mark Cooper's side will meet Barnet on Aug. 5. Champions Lincoln, back after six years, go to Wycombe.

Beaten playoff finalists Luton kick-off at home to Yeovil, Accrington host Colchester and Grimsby go to Chesterfield. Stevenage play Newport, Morecambe take on Cheltenham and Cambridge go to Exeter, while Crewe meet Mansfield.

Finally, Carlisle take on Swindon, Coventry start life in League Two against Notts County and Port Vale head to Crawley, now under the management of Harry Kewell.

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