West Ham United will start the Barclays U21 Premier League Elite Group Stage with a trip to Manchester United on Monday 14 January.

Nick Haycock's Development Squad qualified for the Elite Group by winning the Group 1 title before Christmas and will now play for the right to be named as the country's best U21 side.

To do so, the Hammers will need to finish in the top three to reach the end-of-season play-offs. The winners of the Tier One and Tier Two Stage groups will play-off to meet the winners of the Elite Group in one semi-final, while the second and third-place Elite Group finishers will contest the other. The winners of the two semi-finals will contest the final.

Following Monday's trip to Altrincham FC's Moss Rose ground to face the Red Devils, the Hammers open their home slate of fixtures with the visit of Group 3 title winners Liverpool to Rush Green on Friday 18 January, kick-off 7pm.

The Elite Group also comprises Group 1 runners-up Arsenal, Southampton, Group 2 winners Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion - who finished third in Group 1 - and Wolverhampton Wanderers. One home fixture will be played at the Boleyn Ground - the visit of Tottenham on Monday 8 April, kick-off 7pm.

2012/13 Barclays U21 Premier League Elite Group Stage fixtures
(Home matches in Bold)

Mon 14 Jan Manchester United 7pm (at Altrincham FC)
Fri 18 Jan Liverpool 7pm (at Rush Green)
Mon 28 Jan Arsenal 1pm (at Colney Training Ground)
Mon 4 Feb Tottenham Hotspur 12noon (THFC Training Ground)
Fri 8 Feb West Bromwich Albion 7pm (Rush Green)
Fri 15 Feb Southampton Home 7pm (Rush Green)
Tue 26 Feb Wolverhampton Wanderers 7pm (AFC Telford United)
Fri 1 Mar Manchester United Home 7pm (Rush Green)
Mon 11 Mar Liverpool Away 2pm (The Academy, Kirby)
Fri 15 Mar Arsenal Home 7pm (Rush Green)
Sun 31 Mar West Bromwich Albion 2pm (WBA Training Ground)
Mon 8 Apr Tottenham Hotspur Home 7pm (Boleyn Ground)
Mon 15 Apr Southampton Away 7pm (Eastleigh FC)
Fri 19 Apr Wolverhampton Wanderers Home 7pm (Rush Green)

Competition notes -
The top two sides and two best third-place teams from three First Group Stage groups will go forward to the Elite Group Stage.

The other third-place team, fourth and fifth-place teams and best sixth-place teams will go forward to Tier One Stage. The two other sixth-place teams, seventh and eighth-place teams will go forward to Tier Two Stage.

The Tier One and Tier Two winners will play-off to meet the winners of the Elite Group in one semi-final, while the second and third-place Elite Group finishers will contest the other. The winners of the two semi-finals will contest the final.