Date: 8th August 2008 at 9:40pm
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The long wait is nearly over as Swansea City and 3,225 jacks make the trip to Valley Parade tomorrow as we take on Charlton in our first Championship match in 24 years.

Following last season’s huge success in winning the League One, the Swans look for inspiration from the likes of Bristol City as they aim for further success at a higher level.

Roberto Martinez has made further additions to his squad this Summer, 3 strikers (Gorka Pintado, Stefan Morrison and Febian Brandy), 3 defenders (Alberto Serran, Federico Bessone and Ashley Williams) and 2 midfielders (Jordi Gomez and Mark Gower). Also progressing well in the squad are youngsters Shaun MacDonald and Matty Collins. After inactivity in the first team last term, MacDonald and especially Collins will be hopeful of a few appearances this year at least.

Expectations of the Swans this season will surely differ between different fans and media sources. John Toshack and John Hartson both predict a long hard struggle but safety from relegation while others have a slightly more optimistic view. Play-offs? Mid-table? Relegation battle? Who knows at the moment but it’s sure to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory.

Swansea City will also wave goodbye to the forgetful Johnstone’s Paint Pot Trophy, FA Cup Rounds 1 and 2 and say hello to long-awaited derby days with arch-rivals Cardiff City and more tv exposure with Sky Sports and the like.

Follow the match live here on Vital Swansea, with automatic updates, chat and radio commentary.

Vital Quotes:

Roberto Martinez:

‘It’s going to be a huge test playing against a side who are very good at home,’

‘They are just one of a number of clubs in this division who will think they are better than the Championship as a club and we need to be prepared for that.

‘But our first challenge is trying to make sure we are ourselves.’

‘Everybody at the club is excited and we’re looking forward to getting underway on Saturday.’

Charlton boss, Alan Pardew:

‘At the start of last season Scunthorpe were as good as anyone and I think Swansea will be as well,’

‘They’ll have a lot of energy and be determined to prove they’re good enough, which makes them very dangerous.

‘Obviously it’s a tough start for us, but it should be a good game and there should be a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to it.

‘Swansea impressed a lot of people last season and finished 10 points clear of their nearest rivals, which just shows what a good job their manager Roberto Martinez did.

‘Last year we were surprised by how well Scunthorpe played on the opening day at The Valley, but hopefully we’ve learned our lessons from that and can get off to a winning start.’

Charlton Athletic Team News:

Charlton could be without 5 players on Saturday Matt Holland (ankle), Chris Dickson (thigh), Nicky Weaver (knee), Darren Ambrose (groin and hip) and Svetoslav Todorov (knee) as they all missed a recently friendly match.

Defender Mark Hudson is hoping to make his debut for the club but he is doubtful after limping off in a game against Athletic Club.

Izale McLeod is definitely out with a long-term injury and Zheng Zhi is unavailable for selection as he’s playing for China in the Olympics.Yassin Moutaouakil serves the last match of a 3-match ban.

Player to watch: Jonjo Shelvey

‘Will be a star for Charlton this season’ according to Vital Charlton.

Swansea City Team News:

It’s anyone’s guess who Roberto Martinez picks for his 16-man squad tomorrow. One place we can be sure of is Dorus De Vries in goal – currently our only shot stopper at the club.

In defence, Matty Collins and Alan Tate battle it out for the right back spot as Angel Rangel is out injured. On the opposite side, its between Marcos Painter and new signing Federico Bessone. In the middle, club captain Garry Monk is expected to start with either Alberto Serran or record-breaking £400,000 signing Ashley Williams.

Martinez could name a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 formation. After scoring 2 match winning goals in pre-season friendlies this Summer, left winger Andrea Orlandi will be hopeful of a starting place. After such an impressive first season, I’m sure Ferrie Bodde will earn himself a starting birth.

Jordi Gomez, Mark Gower, Darren Pratley, Thomas Butler and Leon Britton will also all compete for a place.

Up front, Jason Scotland is still not fully fit so he is likely to sit on the bench. Pintado is also a doubt after picking up an injury in the Chester friendly. Bauza, who has struck 10 goals in pre-season should start, either on his own or with Brandy in a 4-4-2 formation.

Player to watch: Andrea Orlandi

Scored a few superb goals during pre-season and his skills and ball work could cause problems if he starts. Guillem Bauza has also been banging the goals in during the Summer and could also be our dangerman.

Match Facts & Stats

Both teams haven’t played each other in a League game for 24 years. Our last meeting was in 1984, we beat them 1-0 at home.

Our last defeat away at Charlton was 35 years ago, we lost 6-0 in Division 3.

Swansea City are undefeated in their last 6 away games.

The two sides have played each other 40 times, with each winning 15 and 10 draws.

Match Prediction:

It’ll be a tough close match and I’m expecting us to come back to earn a well deserved draw.

Next Fixtures:

Saturday 16th August
Nottingham Forest at home (3pm)

Have your say on the forum ahead of the match in the forum here