IPSWICH Town have been handed a mouth-watering start to next season with fellow promotion favourites Sunderland providing their first opposition at Portman Road.

The fancied pair are set to meet in an eagerly-awaited League One clash on Saturday, August 10.

Town are preparing for their first taste of third-tier football since 1957, following last season's dismal relegation from the Championship.

But they will keen to hit the ground running and signal their intentions with a victory against the Black Cats, who reached the play-off final last month before suffering heartache against Charlton Athletic.

That match is Town's second of the season, with Paul Lambert's men kicking-off with a trip to Nigel Clough's Burton Albion on Saturday, August 3.

A tricky August then continues with a trip to winger Gwion Edwards' old side, Peterborough United, on August 17, a home date with AFC Wimbledon on August 20, a trip to Bolton Wanderers - relegated with Ipswich last season - on August 24 and then a home fixture against Shrewsbury Town on August 31.

In the last of those games, Blues pair Jon Nolan and Toto Nsiala will be returning to the Montgomery Waters Meadow stadium.

Essex-based Town fans will no doubt be looking out for the fixtures against Southend United.

Lambert's men travel to Roots Hall on October 26 and the return match will take place at Portman Road on April 4.

Ipswich's Christmas schedule sees Gillingham pay a visit on Boxing Day, followed by a trip to Lincoln City - managed by former Braintree Town boss Danny Cowley - on December 29.

Town then visit Wycombe Wanderers, the club where Lambert cut his managerial teeth in English football, on New Year's Day.

The Easter weekend kicks off with a home match against Bolton on Good Friday (April 10) before a trip to Shrewsbury on Easter Monday (April 13).

Town bring the curtain down on their season - play-offs permitting - with a home match against Milton Keynes Dons on Sunday, May 3.