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Young Blues discover EFL Trophy group opponents

Our development squad will take on the senior sides of Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town and Exeter City in the group stage of this season’s Papa John’s Trophy.

Andy Myers’s side will be looking to better last season’s showing when they failed to reach the knockout round following two defeats and a draw. The 2021/22 campaign will see a return to Bristol Rovers, scene of a 4-3 thriller last term as Tino Anjorin bagged a brace but the Blues were beaten.

We also fell to a defeat at the hands of the Gas the season before and last faced Exeter in November 2017, claiming a 3-1 victory at St James Park, with Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi among the goals.

The EFL Trophy, sponsored once again this season by Papa John’s, is in the sixth year of involvement with invited academy teams alongside the 48 clubs from League One and League Two. Teams face each other once in the regionalised group stage, with under-21 teams playing all three games away from home, before the top two advance to the knockout round.

Player eligibility rules state that academy teams must field a minimum of six under-21 players in their starting 11, while EFL clubs are required to field a certain number of first team players. Any group game that ends in a draw is settled with a penalty shootout, with the winners claiming an extra point.

The competition begins in the week commencing 30 August. Exact dates and information will be announced in due course.

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