It has been confirmed that Wolves will not be one of the ‘invited’ teams competing in the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy.
Scott Sellars’ side reached Round Three of the 2016/17 competition where they were narrowly defeated by Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
The competition provided Wolves Under 21s with a unique opportunity to compete against senior sides from Sky Bet Leagues 1 & 2, facing Chesterfield and Crewe Alexandra away from home before hosting Accrington Stanley at Molineux in the group stage.
The club has missed out on qualification for the upcoming season’s competition due to Wolves’ final league position at the end of 2016/17 season.
Sporting Director, Kevin Thelwell, expressed his disappointment after the announcement that Wolves would not be invited to compete in the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy.
He said: “It’s an obvious disappointment because we took so much from the Checkatrade Trophy last year.
“We feel that the opportunity for our younger players to play in a senior environment against senior players at the relevant stadiums was a massive spike in their development and game experience.
“We took it very seriously and we were pleased that we did very well in the tournament.
“It also gave us a chance to build that connection with the fans where they get to see the young players that are developing and coming through. A glimpse of the future, if you like.
“It’s a real disappointment not to get the opportunity to do that again and, more importantly, provide our younger players with that experience.”
Despite Wolves not being involved, Thelwell believes that it will still be a great opportunity for young footballers to compete at a senior level and accelerate their development.
“There was a lot of conversation about the Checkatrade Trophy and how it was being organised last year,” explained the Sporting Director.
“We always spoke highly and really positively on it, we always thought it was going to be an outstanding experience for our players and it’s going to be a big hole to fill.
“From a game perspective, there are a lot of young players who are going to get a lot of good experience from being a part of that competition.
“It’s disappointing for us not being in it but I’m also delighted that it’s going to continue in its current form and that young players are still going to be given that opportunity to play at that level.”
Wolves Under 23s will continue to compete in the Premier League 2, the Premier League Cup and the Birmingham Senior Cup but the club will continue to look for further competitions moving forward.
Thelwell said: “We’re always looking for opportunities to get them into tournament football where, again, they’ve got to try and learn to win.
“We’ll be finding different ways of filling that gap that the Checkatrade Trophy has left for our players.
“There are still good opportunities out there and we’ll endeavour to do our best for the players and give them a very similar experience.”