A few weeks ago it seemed as if Reading's Category One Academy had been snubbed an invite into the revamped EFL Trophy but now thanks to some of the big boys rejecting the offer, we've been given a place after all. Now the draw for the group stage has been made and we know who Martin Kuhl's Academy side will be facing.
Fixture dates & venues are yet to be confirmed by the club.
So nothing especially stand out there, although both Bristol Rovers and Pompey present short-ish trips for a Tuesday night. Yeovil is a lovely place to visit but how many Royals will want to travel down to watch largely U21 football is a bit up in the air. Likewise, here's hoping that Pompey chap with the bell doesn't do midweek EFL Trophy games....
The plus side of being in the
Johnstone's Paint EFL Trophy is giving younger players more of a taste of senior competition while still at the club but the downside is that it distorts what has traditionally been a chance for smaller clubs to enjoy a day out at Wembley. How seriously Reading will take the competition also remains to be seen but with possibly up to five senior players allowed it could give Jaap Stam the chance to keep players sharp.
Here's a summary of this year's competition rules.
All Category One clubs are obliged to field a minimum of six U21 players (as at June 30) in their starting 11.
- Each group will include one invited Category One club and at least one club from each of Leagues One & Two.
- Clubs will play each other once, either home or away. We are set to play at least one of our home games at Madejski Stadium.
- Clubs will be awarded 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. In the event of a drawn game (after 90 minutes), a penalty shootout will be held with the winning team earning an additional point.
- The top two teams will progress to the Knockout Stage. Round 2 (32 teams) will remain regionalised with each group winner being drawn at home to a second placed team from a different qualifying group. Round 3 (16 teams) and Round 4 (8 teams) will be ‘free' draws.
- Semi-finals (4 teams) will be a 'free' draw and will consist of single ties played at the stadium of the club drawn first in each tie.
- If scores are level after 90 minutes in Rounds 2, 3 and 4, the game will be determined by the taking of penalties.
- Group Stage dates:
- w/c 29th August 2016
- w/c 3rd October 2016
- w/c 7th November 2016
- Round 2 - w/c 5th December 2016
- Round 3 - w/c 9th January 2017
- Round 4 - w/c 23rd January 2017
- Semi- Final - w/c 20th February 2017
- Final - 2nd April 2017 (Wembley Stadium)