The Royals have been drawn against Colchester United, Gillingham and Southend United in the opening group stage of this season's Checkatrade Trophy!
The sixteen invited Under-21 teams for the 2017-18 Checkatrade Trophy were confirmed at the end of last month, the Royals happily accepting the invitation into a tournament our young players certainly benefitted from last season.
And this afternoon the regionalised draw for the group stages was finalised with the Royals set for away trips to League Two Colchester and League One opposition in Gillingham and Southend.
Newcomers Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Fulham take their place in next season’s competition, while Premier League Champions Chelsea will again take part.
They are joined by eleven other Under-21 sides from England’s top flight as well as four from the Championship - Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Fulham and the Royals - as the country’s leading Category One Academies look to pit their promising young talent against professionals, young and old, from the 48 League One and League Two teams.
Last season, the Royals youngsters emerged from a group stage that pitted us against Bristol Rovers, Portsmouth and Yeovil Town.
And we then went on to knock Southampton's Category One side out of the competition at St Mary's. The campaign ended at the last sixteen stage when ten man Reading were defeated by the Glovers at Huish Park.
The selection criteria for invited Under-21 teams like ours is ‘six players from the starting 11 must be under the age of 21 as at 30th June 2017'.
And in May 2017, it was announced that the League One and League Two clubs will have greater flexibility with regard to team selection, while still maintaining the principle that this is a first team competition for them, which will support the development and progression of young players.
The competition will also provide significant financial rewards for all EFL Clubs, which increases with success.