EFL Trophy ties against Portsmouth, Oxford and Crawley are confirmed for City
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The dates of Norwich City’s EFL Trophy group stage fixtures have been confirmed, with three away trips against Football League clubs awaiting.
The Canaries have entered an under-21 squad into the competition, as an invited category one academy, and have been drawn in Group B of the southern section alongside League One side Portsmouth and Oxford United, and League Two club Crawley Town.
David Wright's development squad will begin at Oxford on Tuesday, September 3, in a 7.45pm kick-off at the 12,500 capacity Kassam Stadium.
That is during the early stages of an international break for the first team, with the U's having finished 12th in the third tier under former MK Dons boss Karl Robinson last season.
The second game is at Crawley on Tuesday, October 1 (7.45pm) at The People's Pension Stadium, which holds just over 6,000 spectators. The Reds finished 19th but 12 points clear of the relegation zone in League Two last season.
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The toughest game looks to be the trip to holders Portsmouth on Tuesday, November 5, also a 7.45pm kick-off - after Pompey were beaten in the League One play-off semi-finals by Sunderland last season.
After narrowly missing out on a return to the Championship under Kenny Jackett, for the first time since 2012, the 2008 FA Cup winners side are expected to challenge for promotion again.
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That game will be played at the 21,000 capacity Fratton Park, where the Norwich first team famously sealed promotion to the Premier League under Paul Lambert in 2011, thanks to a Simeon Jackson winner.
Two of those clubs have Canaries players on loan, with Crawley taking young striker Mason Bloomfield for the season and Pompey having defender Sean Raggett, although it's thought neither player will be able to face their parent club.
The restrictions for Norwich as an under-21 team mean at least six players in the starting XI who were under 21 years old as of June 30, with only two over-21 players who have made over 40 first-team appearances allowed to be named in the squad.
Portsmouth beat Sunderland in the Webley final last season, 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Norwich were among the first invited academies to take part in the Trophy during 2016-17 but have not been in the last two season.
The Canaries beat Peterborough 6-1, Barnet 5-0 and MK Dons 4-1 to breeze through the group stages during their last participation but then slipped to a disappointing 1-0 loss to Swansea U21s at Carrow Road in the first knockout round, with players including Timm Klose, Steven Whittaker and Matt Jarvis in the team and a young Ben Godfrey sent off in the 25th minute.
EFL TROPHY FIXTURES (ALL 7.45PM)
- Tues, Sept 3 - Oxford United v Norwich City U21s
- Tues, Oct 1 - Crawley Town v Norwich City U21s
- Tues, Nov 5 - Portsmouth v Norwich City U21s