Under 23s

Wolves under-21s set for 2022/23 Papa John’s Trophy

4 min read

Wolves under-21s return to the Papa John’s Trophy this season as one of the 16 Category One Academy sides who have once again been invited to take part against League One and Two opposition.

With the under-23s reverting back to being known as the under-21s in all competitions from the start of this season, James Collins will lead the development side in the 2022/23 edition of the EFL competition, after his side fell in the group stages of last year’s tournament.

Despite several of the line-up being first and second-year scholars, the under-21s began last season’s competition with a remarkable penalty shootout victory over then-League One leaders Wigan Athletic after holding the Latics to a goalless draw at the DW Stadium.

However, a 3-1 loss on the road at Shrewsbury Town, in which Wolves took the lead after 31 minutes through Owen Hesketh – before Salop hit back, and a 3-0 loss against Crewe Alexandra saw Collins’ young side finish at the foot of the Northern Section Group C table.

This season’s format once again sees 16 invited Academy teams, including Wolves, joined by the 48 clubs in League One and League Two – split into their respective Northern and Southern groups – and continues to provide EFL clubs with a platform for some of the country’s finest young talent to experience first-team football.

The draw for the Papa John’s Trophy group stages will take place later today (Thursday 23rd June) at 11.30am, broadcast live on Sky Sports, with live streams also available on Twitter @PapaJohnsTrophy and online at EFL.com.

Wolves will be ball number eight in the Northern Section of the draw, with the EFL sides already confirmed in their groups, which are as follows:

Group A

  • Harrogate Town
  • Hartlepool United
  • Morecambe

Group B

  • Bolton Wanderers
  • Crewe Alexandra
  • Tranmere Rovers

Group C

  • Port Vale
  • Shrewsbury Town
  • Stockport County

Group D

  • Accrington Stanley
  • Rochdale
  • Salford City

Group E

  • Barnsley
  • Doncaster Rovers
  • Lincoln City

Group F

  • Derby County
  • Grimsby Town
  • Mansfield Town

Group G

  • Barrow
  • Carlisle United
  • Fleetwood Town

Group H

  • Bradford City
  • Burton Albion
  • Sheffield Wednesday

EFL Trophy factfile:

Group stages

  • 16 groups of four teams, split between north and south
  • Each group to contain one invited academy 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 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
  • It is not possible to appear for more than one club in the tournament, so the cup-tied rule applies.

Wolves’ competition history

As first-team

  • 1985/86: Group stages
  • 1986/87: Round one
  • 1987/88: Winners
  • 1988/89: Southern Area final
  • 2013/14: Round two

As under-21s

  • 2016/17: Round three
  • 2018/19: Group stages
  • 2019/20: Round two
  • 2020/21: Round two
  • 2021/22: Group stages

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