Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell says it is "difficult to look past Sussex" when asked to weigh up the main promotion rivals in the 2016 County Championship.
Mitchell feels Sussex will be favourites to win Division Two as, like Worcestershire, they bid to regain their top flight status at the first attempt.
He also believes Essex will mount a strong challenge if they play to their potential.
But Mitchell is confident Worcestershire "will be there or thereabouts" if they perform to the levels they are capable of.
He said: "Who are the main promotion rivals? I think it is difficult to look past Sussex. They obviously came down with us last year. They were probably surprised they got relegated with the depth of the squad they have got and the quality they have got.
"I think they will rightly be favourites to win it, I would have thought.
"They have got some quality players and bat deep down in addition to having a pacey bowling attack.
"Apart from them, you look at Essex's squad on paper and it is a very strong squad so they should be right up there.
"But there are a number of others that can spring a surprise or two as well.
"You have to respect all your opposition. There are some decent sides in Division Two so it's the old cliche, take every game as it comes, go into every game trying to win it.
"If we perform to the best of our capabilities, then we will be there or thereabouts."