The Checkatrade Trophy may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it has given Reading’s youngsters some good experience over the last two seasons. The Royals took part in the competition in both 2016/17 and 2017/18, but it turns out that they won’t be coming back for 2018/19.
The English Football League confirmed on Monday that their list of invited under-21 teams would not include Reading. Despite our academy retaining Category One status, which is held by all invited youth sides, a dreadful league finish for the senior squad had ramifications on the youngsters - that league finish being taken into account by the EFL when invitations were sent out.
In Reading’s place, Middlesbrough and the relegated trio (Stoke City, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion) are the only non-Premier League sides to have under-21 teams invited to take part.
The full list of invitations is as follows:
Arsenal, Brighton and Hove Albion, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Leicester City, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Southampton, Stoke City, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It’s a real shame that the Royals’ youngsters won’t get a chance to improve upon previous finishes in the competition. 2016/17’s results saw Reading beat Bristol Rovers 3-2, draw 2-2 with Portsmouth (although we won on penalties) and lose 2-0 at home to Yeovil Town. In the knockout rounds, there was another penalty shootout win - this time at Southampton - before another loss to Yeovil.
The following season was more disappointing - Colchester winning a group stage penalty shootout against Reading, with Southend (1-0) and Gillingham (7-5) inflicting defeats on the Royals in normal time.
There’s no news yet (none that we can see at least) about the 2018/19 Premier League International Cup. Reading took part in it last season, but their involvement wasn’t that widely publicised - if you’re not familiar with the format, it’s a cup competition not unlike the Checkatrade Trophy, but made up of top academy sides from English and mainland European teams.
In 2018/19, Reading lost 2-0 to Porto in Southampton, drew 0-0 with Arsenal in Borehamwood and lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich at Adams Park. As all games take place in England, you get random fixtures like Bayern Munich vs Porto... in Aldershot.
When we hear more about the Royals’ involvement in that tournament - or non-involvement - we’ll let you know.