Wolves under-21s discover EFL Trophy opponents

Wolves have been drawn against Bradford City, Doncaster Rovers and Oldham Athletic as the under-21s return to the EFL Trophy for the 2020/21 season.

James Collins’ side made it out of the group stage of last season’s competition before coming up short in the round of 32 to eventual finalists Salford City – who are yet to play their final against Portsmouth due to Covid-19 – and are one of 16 invited Academy teams to join the 48 clubs in League One and League Two who will make up the competition this year.

Wolves, who were ball number eight in the northern section of the draw, were placed in Group F alongside Bradford, Doncaster and Oldham during Tuesday afternoon’s draw, with the team due to travel away to the three teams during the course of the season as the four teams play each other once in the group stages of the tournament.

The first matchday of EFL Trophy fixtures for the under-21s are scheduled to take place in the week commencing Monday 7th September.

Speaking about the competition, Collins said: “It’s a really positive competition for under-23 teams to be involved in. It’s a good opportunity for them to see the standard they need to be performing at, plus you get tested in different ways.

“Sometimes the style is very different to what they would be used to at youth level, and also, they’re playing against ‘men’. I know it’s an old-fashioned thing to say, but it’s a tougher environment to develop in and it’s something young players very much need.”

The under-21s faced Carlisle United, Morecambe and Blackpool last time out, reaching the knockout stages having finished second in the group behind the Seasiders thanks to a 4-2 win away at Carlisle and a penalty shootout victory against the Shrimps.

Full fixture details for the 2020/21 EFL Trophy will be confirmed in due course.

2020/21 EFL Trophy dates:

  • Matchday 1: 8/9th September
  • Matchday 2: 6/7th October
  • Matchday 3: 10/11th November
  • Round of 32: 8/9th December
  • Round of 16: 12/13th January
  • Quarter-finals: 2/3rd February
  • Semi-finals: 16/17th February
  • Final: 14th March

EFL Trophy factfile:

Group stages

  • 16 groups of four teams
  • Each group to contain one invited team
  • Groups formed to minimise overall travel for EFL clubs and fans
  • Invited under-21 teams to play all group games away
  • Clubs will be awarded three points for a win, one point for a draw
  • In the event of a drawn game after 90 minutes, a penalty shootout will be held with the victorious team gaining an extra point
  • Top two clubs qualify from each group

Knockout rounds

  • Round two will remain regionalised with group winners at home against a second placed team from a different qualifying group
  • Round three will remain regionalised
  • Quarter-finals will be drawn without geographical restriction (no regionalisation)
  • If scores are level after 90 minutes, all knockout rounds will be decided by penalties except for the final, which will have extra-time and then penalties

Player criteria

  • Six of the 11 players in the starting line-up need to be under-21 at 30th June this year
  • There can be no more than two players who are over 21 and have made more than 40 appearances for the first team (either in the starting 11 or as a playing substitute) as of 30th June
  • Players who are out on loan are ineligible for this competition
  • Top two clubs qualify from each group
  • It is not possible to appear for more than one club in the tournament, so the cup-tied rule applies.

Wolves’ competition history

  • 1985/86: Group stages
  • 1986/87: Round one
  • 1987/88: Winners
  • 1988/89: Southern Area final
  • 2013/14: Round two
  • 2016/17 (under-21s): Round three
  • 2018/19 (under-21s): Group stages
  • 2019/20 (under-21s): Round two