Aston Villa will join the recently announced Liverpool and Manchester United Under-21s teams as one of the Category One Academy sides to be included in the EFL Trophy for the 2019/20 campaign.
Villa will join the likes of previous winners Portsmouth and Lincoln City (when it was called the Checkatrade Trophy) and the rest of League One and League Two sides, as well as Under-21 teams from the top Premier League top six from the 2018/19 campaign, which will be the first time the top six will be represented.
The format, which sees 16 invited teams joined by the 48 Clubs in League One and League Two, continues to court controversy with the League teams feeling the tournament – traditionally contested by the 3rd and 4th tiers of English football – is compromised by the inclusion of U-21 teams.
On the other side of the coin, for Premier League teams, it provides a platform for young talent to experience first-team football. The EFL obviously hope it provides an opportunity to create additional revenue.
Invited teams are selected based on the club’s final league position at the end of the 2018/19 season, with the first 16 with Category One Academy status invited to take part.
In the past three seasons, Villa were only a relegation away from playing in the tournament with their senior side. What a difference promotion to the Premier League makes.
The Round One Group Stage draw will take place in July, with the first round of fixtures scheduled to take place week commencing Monday 2 September.
The full list of invited Under-21 sides is as follows:
|Aston Villa||Manchester United|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||Newcastle United|
|Leicester City||West Ham United|