Ipswich could face Norwich U21s in Checkatrade ‘derby’ after Canaries enter young team
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Ipswich Town could face Norwich City’s Under 21s next season after it was confirmed the Canaries would be entering the Checkatrade Trophy.
The Blues will be playing in the tournament for the first time following relegation to League One, with the group stages made up of the 48 sides in the third and fourth tiers as well as 16 academy teams.
Ipswich are certain to face one of the young sides in the group stages, raising the intriguing prospect of a game against Norwich.
The Suffolk side are, of course, without a victory over their Norfolk rivals since April 2009.
The group stage of the competition is heavily regionalised, raising the prospect of games against Colchester, Cambridge, Peterborough or Southend, but the placement of the category one academy teams is not based on geography.
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Rivals Sunderland and Newcastle, as well as Stoke and Port Vale, were kept apart in the group stages of last season's competition but did meet in the knockout stage.
Sunderland beat Newcastle United's development squad 4-0 in the last 16 last season in front of 16,654 at the Stadium of Light, while Vale's victory over Stoke in the last 32 was marred by violence and stadium damage.
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The 64 clubs who have entered next season's EFL Trophy will be divided into 16 groups of four, with eight northern groups and eight southern groups. The first round of fixtures is scheduled to take place in the week commencing September 2.
Liverpool and Manchester United have agreed to enter development squads in the new season's competition.
"The EFL Trophy continues to grow and we are delighted to welcome Liverpool and Manchester United U21s to the competition," said EFL executive chair, Debbie Jevans.
"The recent feedback received from Clubs and coaches has been very positive with the current format continuing to offer greater revenue for our Clubs and competitive first team football for young talent."
Last season's final saw Portsmouth beat Sunderland in front of more than 80,000 fans at Wembley.
Invited academy teams: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Brighton, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle, Norwich, Southampton, Tottenham, West Ham, Wolves