Derby back on! Norwich City to enter under-21 squad into EFL Trophy
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City have accepted an invitation to compete in next season’s EFL Trophy - throwing up the intriguing prospect of an East Anglian derby meeting with Paul Lambert’s Ipswich Town.
City will be one of 16 category one academies to enter the competition which comprises all the League One and Two clubs. Portsmouth beat Sunderland at Wembley last season and following Ipswich's relegation from the Championship, Lambert's club will also be in the group stage draw that takes place next month.
Norwich have not lost to Ipswich since April 2009 and beat the Blues 3-0 at Carrow Road back in February in a feisty encounter that saw Lambert red carded and later handed a touchline ban for an ugly spat in front of the dug outs.
City's promotion coupled with Ipswich Town's relegation to League One means there will be a two-league gap between the East Anglian rivals for the first time since 1937/38.
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.
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That could see City's development squad drawn in a pool comprising the likes of Ipswich, Colchester and Peterborough. Sunderland beat Newcastle United's development squad 4-0 in the round of 16 in the competition last season in front of 16,654 at the Stadium of Light.
Norwich entered the competition previously when they were in the Premier League with Nelson Oliveira, Alex Pritchard and Josh Murphy among those who featured as over-age players in 2016.
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Liverpool and Manchester United have agreed to enter development squads in the new season's competition. Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham will also be represented.
"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."