Stoke were relegated alongside Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion last season and have lost key players, such as Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri to Liverpool.
However, McCarthy still expects Potters boss Gary Rowett to meet expectations at his new club next season.
"Stoke are favourites to go back up, not least as they have Gary Rowett in charge," McCarthy told The Sun.
"His teams play good football but he is pragmatic as well. He knows how to win a game. The Potters have been doing good business, too, bringing in Benik Afobe, who will score goals in the Championship, and winger Tom Ince. But getting midfielder Joe Allen to sign a new deal was a masterstroke because it shows Stoke's intent.
"If you can get people to buy into the belief they are going back up, it attracts others to stay or move there."
Rowett left Derby County to join Stoke in May, signing a three-year contract at the bet365 stadium.