MK Dons kick-off their EFL Trophy campaign this evening when they take on Chelsea Under-21s in their Southern Group F opener at Stadium MK.
Graham Alexander’s side will be competing with the Young Blues, as well as Oxford United and Northampton Town, for the two places on offer in the knockout stages of the EFL competition.
The Dons have made it past the Group Stage in each of the last four seasons and will be hoping to maintain that record this campaign. It’s a competition that the Club won in 2008 while Head Coach Graham Alexander led his Salford City side to the Final in 2020.
A reminder that if the scores are level at the full-time whistle, a penalty shoot-out will take place to determine who will receive a bonus point.
Kick-off is at 7pm.
Chelsea U21 are involved in the EFL Trophy for the fifth season in succession, following the introduced of Invited U21 Clubs in 2018/19.
The Young Blues reached the Last 16 of the competition this past campaign, beating Peterborough United 4-2 in the Round of 32 after finishing top of their group. They were eventually knocked out by Cheltenham Town.
Mark Robinson's side have enjoyed mixed results so far in their Premier League 2 Division One campaign, suffering back-to-back defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich City after an impressive 6-1 win over Blackburn Rovers to start their season.
England youth international, Ronnie Stutter, is one to watch if involved – the striker has scored five goals already this campaign, including two sets of braces.
LAST TIME OUT
MK Dons made it four wins from five courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Doncaster Rovers at Stadium MK.
Graham Alexander's men did their damage in the first half, scoring twice inside the opening 33 minutes. Daniel Harvie put them in front with a composed finish after Jonathan Leko's initial effort deflected into his path, a quarter of an hour before Warren O'Hora headed home a second from Dawson Devoy's cross.
Luke Molyneux scored a terrific goal for Doncaster with a little under 20 minutes left to play but it proved nothing more than a consolation, as the Dons held on for all three points.
Chelsea Under-21s were beaten 3-2 by Norwich City in a Premier League 2 clash last Friday night.
The Young Blues went behind to a Tom Dickson-Peters goal after only 10 minutes, but levelled the scores just four minutes later through Jimmy-Jay Morgan.
Norwich, though, restored their lead through Aiden Manning before Emmanuel Adegboyega added a third with a header past Max Merrick. Ronnie Stutter added a 64th-minute consolation for Chelsea, who fell to a second successive PL2 defeat.
Erbil Bozkurt: “It’s a game that we want to win, especially being at home, and it’s a competition that we want to do well in. It’s also a competition where we can give some players an opportunity to play some games – but whoever plays, it’ll be a team that gives us the best chance to win the match.
“It will be an interesting test for us. There is a reason why these players are representing an elite club so while I’m sure they will provide a different test to what we usually face, we know they will be good players and it will be a good challenge.”
MK Dons must have at least four 'qualifying' outfield players in their line-up for EFL Trophy fixtures.
Qualifying players include those who started the previous or following first-team fixture; are in the top 10 players at the club who have made the most starting appearances in league and domestic cup competitions so far this season; have 40 or more first-team appearances in their career; are on loan from a Premier League club or any EFL 'Category One' academy club. A club can also play any eligible goalkeeper in the competition.
In terms of availability, Dean Lewington and Charlie Waller are yet to feature this season, owing to injuries picked up in pre-season. Mo Eisa limped out of Saturday’s win over Doncaster Rovers and it remains to be seen whether he will be involved tonight.
Jacob Miles will run the rule over this evening’s EFL Trophy tie at Stadium MK, refereeing an MK Dons match for the very first time.
So far this season, Miles has taken charge of two games – both in Sky Bet League Two. He has produced a total of nine yellow cards but is yet to brandish his red card or award a penalty.
His assistant referees are Johnathon Bickerdike and Shaun Farrer while the fourth official is Adrian Tranter.
HEAD TO HEAD
MK Dons wins: 0
Chelsea U21 wins: 1
Chelsea U21 wins at Stadium MK: 1
Last Chelsea U21 win: 4-0, 6 Dec 2017 (Stadium MK)
Biggest Chelsea U21 win: 4-0, 6 Dec 2017 (Stadium MK)
ELSEWHERE IN EFL TROPHY
Grimsby Town v Manchester City U21, 7.30pm
FOLLOW IT LIVE
Tickets will be available to buy right up until kick-off, priced at £13 adults, £10 seniors/under-25s, £6 under-21s and £1 under-14s. To book tickets CLICK HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 01908 622933.
Can't make the game? Supporters can WATCH this tie live on iFollow MK Dons for £10 - to purchase a Video Match Pass CLICK HERE!
Live text updates will also be provided on the Match Centre as well as Twitter, while a full report will be available to read shortly after the full-time whistle. Post-match reaction and highlights will follow after.