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Liverpool and Academies learn EFL Trophy groups

12 Jul 2019
Abdi Sharif and Curtis Jones, Liverpool, PL2

Reds' U21s manager says competition is a great place to learn after 2019/20 group stage draw is made

Liverpool are determined to become winning debutants in the EFL Trophy after they and the 15 other Category One Academies discovered their opponents in the group stage draw.

The Reds will face Accrington Stanley, Oldham Athletic and Fleetwood Town when they take part in the competition for the first time and their Under-21s manager Neil Critchley is determined to make a good impression.

Learning curve

"It's going to be tough but that's why we're in the competition," Critchley told the club's official website. "It's a different competition and we're going to be learning as we go but we're Liverpool and we'll be looking to try to win every game."

Liverpool, competing in Group B of the Northern section, will encounter some well-known alumni in the group stage. 

"At Fleetwood, they've just signed Jordan Rossiter on loan," Critchley added. "He came through our Academy, as well as Nathan Sheron, so it'll be good to see so many familiar faces."

Liverpool are joined by Manchester United in making their first appearance. The Red Devils have been drawn in Group H with Doncaster Rovers, Rotherham United and Lincoln City while Manchester City, quarter-finalists in 2018/19, are in Group F with Bolton Wanderers, Bradford City and Rochdale.

Valuable experience

The 16 Category One Academies will compete alongside 48 sides from League One and League Two, providing valuable experience of first-team football against senior professionals for many of the country's best young players.

Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount are just two players to have benefited from playing in the competition, having appeared in Chelsea's first-ever game in the competition at Swindon Town in 2016.

The Blues, who reached the semi-final in 2017/18, return to Swindon in Group F of the Southern section having recorded a 4-0 success there last term.

Northern section

Group A: Grimsby Town, Scunthorpe United, Sunderland, Leicester U21s
Group B: Accrington Stanley, Oldham Athletic, Fleetwood Town, Liverpool U21s
Group C: Bury, Salford City, Tranmere Rovers, Aston Villa U21s
Group D: Port Vale, Shrewsbury Town, Macclesfield Town, Newcastle U21s
Group E: Crewe Alexandra, Burton Albion, Mansfield Town, Everton U21s
Group F: Bolton Wanderers, Bradford City, Rochdale, Man City U21s
Group G: Blackpool, Carlisle United, Morecambe, Wolves U21s
Group H: Doncaster Rovers, Rotherham United, Lincoln City, Man Utd U21s

Southern section

Group A: Gillingham, Colchester United, Ipswich Town, Spurs U21s
Group B: Crawley Town, Portsmouth, Oxford United, Norwich U21s
Group C: Leyton Orient, AFC Wimbledon, Southend United, Brighton U21s
Group D: Coventry City, Forest Green Rovers, Walsall, Southampton U21s
Group E: Exeter City, Cheltenham Town, Newport County, West Ham U21s
Group F: Swindon Town, Bristol Rovers, Plymouth Argyle, Chelsea U21s
Group G: Stevenage, MK Dons, Wycombe Wanderers, Fulham U21s
Group H: Peterborough United, Cambridge United, Northampton Town, Arsenal U21s

First ties will be played week commencing 2 September.

See: The EFL Trophy explained

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