Town to face Colchester and Gillingham in EFL Trophy

Colchester United boss John McGreal played more than 100 times for Ipswich Town. Photo: Steve Waller

Colchester United boss John McGreal played more than 100 times for Ipswich Town. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town have been drawn against Colchester United and Gillingham in Group A of the EFL Trophy.

The final member of that regionalised group - a Premier League/Championship Under-23 outfit - will be revealed on Friday lunchtime (12.30pm on talkSPORT).

Sixteen Category One academy sides have been invited to take part in the competition, eight of whom - Arsenal, Brighton, Chelsea, Fulham, Norwich, Southampton, Tottenham and West Ham - will be in the southern half of the draw.

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It's highly unlikely the Blues will face Norwich given that last season the EFL decided to prevent 'high profile clashes' in the group stages - Newcastle v Sunderland and Southampton v Portsmouth - following consultation with the police.

Academy sides have to play all of their three group games away from home.

Gillingham were in a group with Tottenham last season, while Colchester were in a group with Southampton.

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The Gills, now managed by Steve Evans, finished 13th in League One last season. Town have since signed their goalkeeper Tomas Holy on a Bosman free transfer.

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Colchester, managed by former Town defender John McGreal, just missed out on a League Two play-off place and have seen key men Frankie Kent and Sammie Szmodics depart this summer.

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Town are playing in the competition - open to League One and Two clubs - for the first time ever following relegation to the third-tier.

The first round of fixtures, all of which take place on midweek nights, are due to take place in the week commencing September 2.

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In the group stage of the competition, clubs are awarded three points for a win, and one point for a draw, like in their respective leagues.

However, when a game in the EFL Trophy finishes in a draw after 90 minutes, the two sides will compete in a penalty shootout, with an additional point on offer for the winners.

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The top two teams in each group progresses to the knockout stages, which remain regionalised until the quarter-finals.

All games are one-off ties, which will be decided by penalties if the score is level after 90 minutes, with no extra-time. However, the final will go to extra-time and penalties if required.

Portsmouth beat Sunderland in the 2019 final in front of more than 85,000 people at Wembley.

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