Hammers go west in Checkatrade Trophy

Checkatrade Trophy


West Ham United U21s have been drawn to face Swindon Town, Bristol Rovers and Wycombe Wanderers in the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy.

The Hammers were placed in Group C alongside the two West Country clubs and Buckinghamshire-based Chairboys, meaning Terry Westley’s youngsters will travel to the County Ground, Memorial Ground and Adams Park this coming season.

Westley says his squad will enjoy and benefit from the challenge of facing Bristol Rovers, who finished tenth in EFL League One last season, and League Two pair Swindon and Wycombe, as they did when tackling eventual winners Coventry City, Northampton Town and Wycombe last term.

“Our games programme for the coming season is really tough, including these games in the Checkatrade Trophy,” said the Academy Director, whose young professionals won promotion to Premier League 2 Division 1 in May.

"We have been promoted to Premier League 2 Division 1, meaning we will play the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, and our top-flight status means we will also be taking part in the Premier League International Cup against sides like Benfica, FC Porto and FC Copenhagen.

"The experience the Checkatrade Trophy gives the players will see them tackle League One and League Two opposition, and that can only help them to reach the level we want them to reach.

"Not only will they benefit from playing in this competition, but there is the added carrot of the final being played at Wembley and, with more clubs entering this season, I don't think we are too far away from a top Academy side reaching the final.

"With such a challenging games programme, we will have to balance the needs of the players and decide who needs to go out on loan, who will benefit from playing in the Checkatrade Trophy and who will be part of our U23 squad."

West Ham are among 16 EPPP Category One Academies taking part, with Chelsea, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur among the seven others in the Southern Section. Everton, Manchester City and Newcastle United are among the Northern Section participants.

The 16 Category One entrants will join the 48 League One and League Two clubs in the group stage, which has been regionalised to reduce travel times and costs for supporters and clubs alike.

West Ham will play all three Group C fixtures away from home, with clubs being awarded three points for a win and one for a draw. In the event of a draw after 90 minutes, a penalty shootout will be held with the winning team earning an additional point.

The top two teams in each group will progress to the knockout stage.

The final will be played at Wembley Stadium in spring 2018.