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Everton to make debut in new-look competition

Toffees academy side to take part in EFL Trophy

Everton v Celtic: U21 SuperCup NI Final Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Everton have been drawn against Bolton, Blackpool and Cheltenham Town in Northern Group A of the revamped EFL Trophy.

The competition, formerly known as the Johnstones Paint Trophy, has invited 16 category one academy teams to take part in a trial.

The revamp is an attempt to revive what is seen as a flagging competition and provide young players from top academies with competitive football.

Coaches from category one academies feel some young players stagnate and struggle to make the jump from youth to senior football, partly due to a lack of exposure to senior games between the ages of 18-21.

In countries such as Spain top clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid have ‘B’ teams competing in the lower leagues.

However, English football’s pyramid system means ‘B’ teams are unlikely to be introduced anytime soon.

The EFL Trophy therefore is a compromise, with the Premier League donating £1m in prize money as part of the deal.

A number of Premier League clubs such as Man Utd and Liverpool have declined the invitation.

Everton did accept the offer and joined 15 other category one academy teams in the draw with 48 sides from League One and League Two.

The draw pits them with League One Bolton, who were only relegated from the Premier League in 2012, and League Two sides Blackpool and Cheltenham.

Though the draw was regionalised Cheltenham, located in south-west England, found themselves in the ‘Northern’ section of the draw as they were one of the most northerly clubs in League 2.

The result means a 284-mile round trip to Whaddon Road for Toffees fans when the sides meet in October.

The top two sides will qualify from each group with the remainder of the competition a straight knockout format until the final at Wembley.

EFL Trophy schedule:

Northern Group A

Match Day 1 – w/c 29th August 2016

Bolton Wanderers v Everton

Blackpool v Cheltenham Town

Match Day 2 – w/c 3rd October 2016

Cheltenham Town v Everton

Bolton Wanderers v Blackpool

Match Day 3 – w/c 7th November 2016

Cheltenham Town v Bolton Wanderers

Everton v Blackpool