MK Dons will discover their Checkatrade Trophy Group Stage opponents in July, including which Under-21 invited teams they will face.
The 16 invited Under-21 teams for the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy campaign were confirmed by the EFL on Friday morning, with newcomers Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Fulham taking their place in next season’s competition.
Premier League Champions Chelsea will again take part and will be joined by eight other top-flight sides as well as four EFL Clubs who will also have Under-21 sides involved – Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Reading and the aforementioned Fulham.
The full list of invited Under-21 sides is as follows:
Brighton & Hove Albion
West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
*new teams highlighted in bold
The invited teams were selected based on their final league position at the end of the 2016/17 season. The first 16 were invited to take part, and then subsequent teams – with Category One Academy status – invited as required.
The selection criteria for invited Under-21 teams is 'six players from the starting 11 must be under the age of 21 as at 30th June 2017'.
The first round of fixtures are scheduled to take place week commencing 28th August.
Back in May, it was announced that EFL Clubs will have greater flexibility with regard to team selection, while still maintaining the principle that this is a first-team competition that will support the development and progression of young players.
Key format changes include:
EFL team selection criteria amended to allow increased flexibility for League One and League Two Clubs;
An increase in the total competition fund to £3 million;
Each group will continue to contain one invited Under-21 team with the remainder made up of EFL clubs from either League One or League Two. Groups will be formed to minimise overall travel time for EFL clubs and fans;
Invited Under-21 teams will play their Group games away from home;
- Regionalisation until the Quarter-Final stage (improved from Round Two in 2016/17) to minimise overall travel time for clubs and fans;
- Flexibility of fixture dates to allow teams to schedule games outside of international weeks;
As part of the proposals, the selection criteria for invited Under-21 teams will remain as 'six players from the starting 11 must be under the age of 21 as at 30 June 2017'.