Potters confirmed to compete in next season's Checkatrade Trophy...
STOKE CITY will take part in next season’s Checkatrade Trophy after the EFL gave the green light for 16 Category One Academies to remain in the competition for at least the next two seasons.
The Potters, who have twice lifted the trophy before, were one of a number of clubs invited to make a return in 2016/17 as the EFL made major changes to the tournament.
Glyn Hodges’ young side narrowly missed out on qualification through to the knockout stages however, despite claiming a penalty shootout victory in their final group encounter against Bury.
The 16 invited Under 21 teams for the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy will include newcomers Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Fulham.
Premier League Champions Chelsea will again take part and will be joined by 11 other Under 21 sides from England’s top-flight as the country’s leading Academies look to pit their stars against professionals, young and old, from the 48 League One and League Two teams.
Four EFL Clubs will have Under 21 sides involved, with Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Reading joining Fulham in the Group Stage draw, which will take place in July with the first round of fixtures scheduled to take place week commencing 28 August.
The announcement follows the overwhelming support of League One and League Two clubs to allow the continued involvement of 16 invited sides in the Checkatrade Trophy, alongside several format amendments to provide increased flexibility in team selection for League One and League Two Clubs.
Academy Director Gareth Jennings says he is delighted that the Potters will be featuring in the competition for the next two seasons.
"I thought we competed extremely well in the competition last year, and the Checkatrade Trophy is something we will be looking forward to being involved in over the next couple of years."Gareth Jennings, Academy Director
“With our U23 players, I think we are now showing that we are really focussing on their individual development and mapping out what their pathway looks like here, and participating in this competition, against seasoned professionals, will undoubtedly further their progression.”
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey has welcomed the growing strength in the number of Clubs wanting to take part in the competition.
He said: “I was delighted when EFL Clubs collectively backed the competition following a full and comprehensive review of last season’s pilot format and we can see from the increasing interest from Category One Academies that the Checkatrade Trophy has genuine appeal.
“The competition provides a unique challenge to young players and seasoned professionals alike. I strongly believe players from League One and League Two clubs will look forward to taking on some of the country’s brightest prospects, who will themselves learn a lot from participating in a first team competition.”
* Unlike last season, the Potters, and all other U23 sides, will play all three of their group fixtures away from home.