Doncaster Rovers: Ferguson backs Checkatrade Trophy status quo

Alfie Beestin was one of the young Rovers players to benefit from game time in the Checkatrade Trophy
Alfie Beestin was one of the young Rovers players to benefit from game time in the Checkatrade Trophy
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Darren Ferguson has thrown his weight behind the Checkatrade Trophy after clubs voted to keep the controversial competition in its current format.

The EFL cup competition for League One and Two clubs was heavily criticised for the introduction of 16 invited U21 sides from Premier League and Championshop clubs plus restrictive selection regulations.

Representatives from the 48 clubs from the EFL’s bottom two tiers were asked to choose whether to retain the current format, revert to the previous 48-team knockout competition or abandon the tournament entirely.

And two thirds of clubs opted to keep the status quo for the next two seasons, with several format changes.

And Doncaster Rovers boss Ferguson was in full support.

He said: “The Checkatrade Trophy was a roaring success for Doncaster Rovers as far as I am concerned.

“It gave me the chance to play and look at the younger players in the squad and see how they coped with better opposition.

“The players enjoyed the group stages of the tournament and we were disappointed to go out of it on penalties in the second round.

“I think the format was good and I am happy to see the same format for next season.”

Rovers were eliminated by Blackpool on penalties in the second round of the competition but had enjoyed a positive experience in the group stages.

Young players such as Liam Mandeville, Alfie Beestin and Will Longbottom all made positive contributions during welcome game time in senior football.

Though restricted to the number of changes to a side which could be made this season, clubs will be handed greater flexibility on selection from now on, as part of amendments to the competition.

The regionalisation of the tournament will now continue to the quarter final stage as opposed to round two.

Clubs will be handed the flexibility to schedule games outside of international breaks, when they were held this season.

Restricting games to international breaks this season proved off-putting for many Premier League outfits, who opted not to take part.

And prize money for the competition will increase to £3million.

Rovers will host Championship side Derby County in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday, July 18.