Norwich City starlets are ready for Checkatrade Trophy test at Peterborough

Josh Murphy, left, and James Maddison were first-team substitutes in the loss at Birmingham on Satur

Josh Murphy, left, and James Maddison were first-team substitutes in the loss at Birmingham on Saturday. Picture: FOCUS IMAGES - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The controversial new format of the EFL Trophy gets under way tonight, with Norwich City one of 16 higher-level clubs accepting an invite to enter their under-23 squad in the competition.

The young Canaries start their Southern Group F campaign at League One side Peterborough United, offering the likes of James Maddison, Carlton Morris and Harry Toffolo a chance to press their claims for first-team involvement.

A trip to Barnet (October 4) and a Carrow Road clash with MK Dons (November 8) follow as City take the chance to play their youngsters in fully competitive fixtures, in the newly christened Checkatrade Trophy.

U23s boss Dmitri Halajko will lead the team but is likely to be assisted in the dug-out at London Road, with first-team assistant manager Frankie McAvoy having been involved in Thursday's 2-1 league loss to Middlesbrough at Carrow Road on Thursday.

'We'll have some first-team support with us, as we normally do,' said Halajko, who followed Paul Lambert to Carrow Road from Colchester United.


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'It's really positive that we work so closely with the first team and that they take such a positive interest into the 23s programme.

'In terms of being in the changing room, being in the dug-out, I don't think there's many clubs who have the link as strong as we make it. So there will be possibly some first team involvement but it will be a joint project, as it will with most of the 23s games.'

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First-team boss Alex Neil rarely misses a development squad match and will get many more opportunities to watch the club's youngsters this season, with the revamped Premier League Two development league system, the Checkatrade Trophy, Premier League International Cup and Premier League Cup.

With the age raised two years to U23 as well, Halajko is sure the club's promising talent will benefit from the increase in development matches.

'Loans will still play an important part but the 23s league certainly needed to step up and make itself more competitive and more realistic,' he added. 'I think with the fixture programme this year that has happened.

'We know the Peterborough game will be a very tough test but that's what we want, that's what the boys need.

'We played against their reserves a couple of weeks ago in a friendly game, which was tough (Posh winning 4-2). We acquitted ourselves okay and that was our younger lads, we didn't have any senior boys that day. They were slightly better than us but our lads had a good taste of what will be to come on Tuesday.'

Tickets will be available at the ground tonight, priced at £10 for adults and £5 for under-18s.

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