Hammers to enter EFL Trophy

  • West Ham United to field team in EPL Trophy for the first time in 2016/17
  • Revamped competition will involve 16 invited Premier League and Championship clubs
  • Invited clubs will field sides with a mixture of first-team and Academy players
West Ham United will field a team in the 2016/17 EFL Trophy.

The tournament, which traditionally involves clubs from the third and fourth tiers of the Football League pyramid, has been revamped for the new season to include sides representing EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) Category One Academies.

The Hammers, who won the U21 Premier League Cup last season, took up an invitation from the EFL (English Football League) and will go into the 64-team draw on Wednesday.

The Club's Academy Director Terry Westley is excited for the challenge of fielding a team in the competiton and thinks it will be a new type of test for his players.

He said: "We’ve been trying to be involved in this for a long time. We thought it was a competition we believed we could get accepted into and now it’s happened.
"It’s important for us to take part and show our support to the Premier League. It will be tough though, for sure, but it's exciting to be involved.
"The first round is during the international break, so young players will get a chance. But we’re in the competition, we’re looking forward to seeing who the draw pits us against and we’ll put the strongest team out we can once we know when the games are.
"It’s certainly challenging, but it’s a real good test for the players that are going to be involved."
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey said the changes to the competition are aimed at helping young players to develop by playing high-level competitive first-team matches.

“The new format is intended to rejuvenate this competition and also assist the development of the very best young players in English football,” said Harvey. “This will help us deliver more and better home-grown players which will deliver benefits to the national team and domestic league football at all levels.”

To generate more interest in the EFL Trophy, organisers have introduced a host of new features.
Competing clubs will be entered into 16 four-team groups organised on a regionalised basis, with the top two in each group qualifying for the knockout stages.

Each group will include at least one invited club and at least one club from each of Leagues One and Two. Clubs will play each other once, either home or away.

Excitement is guaranteed as clubs will be awarded three points for a win and one point for a draw. In the event of a drawn game after 90 minutes, a penalty shootout will be held with the winning team earning an additional point.

West Ham are expected to field teams consisting of a mixture of experienced players and promising youngsters, with the competition’s rules requiring that each participant name five ‘first-team’ players and six aged 21 or under.

Group-stage fixtures will be played in weeks commencing 29 August, 3 October and 7 November 2016, with the knockout stages starting in early December. The final will be held at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 2 April 2017.