The EFL have today revealed who Reading’s group stage opponents will be in the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy, after it was revealed at the end of last month that the Royals academy had accepted an invitation to take part in the competition for the second year in a row.
Martin Kuhl’s side have been placed in Group B of the Southern Section alongside and Colchester United, Gillingham and Southend United.
The Gills will of course also face Reading’s first team in the first round of the Carabao Cup in August, and finished 20th in League One last season. Southend finished seventh in the same division and can count former Royals Simon Cox and Anton Ferdinand amongst their ranks. Colchester meanwhile, ranked eighth in League Two.
Unlike last season, the Under-21 sides will play all of their group games away from home. However, the system of holding a penalty shoot-out if the game is drawn with the winner gaining an additional point will remain in place. In terms of the eligibility of players, six of the academy’s starting 11 must be U21 (as at 30 June 2016).
In 2016/17, Reading’s academy finished second in a group with Yeovil Town, Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers, setting up a knockout stage clash with Southampton’s academy. They beat the Saints on penalties but were defeated 4-2 by Yeovil in the following round.
Dates and times of this year’s fixtures will be announced in due course, but we do know the first round of fixtures will be played in the week commencing Monday 28th August.