Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has expressed bemusement at the fact the Checkatrade Trophy, which was overhauled to benefit the country’s best young players, has once again been scheduled during an international week.
Wilder, who described the decision as “unbelievable”, revealed it means Harry Chapman will be denied the chance to make only his second start for the League One club while plans to hand Aaron Ramsdale his senior debut could also be wrecked.
Chapman, on loan from Middlesbrough, has been selected in the England under-20 squad for a four team tournament against Holland, Germany and the USA while goalkeeper Ramsdale travels with the under-19’s to Croatia later this week.
“It’s unbelievable,” Wilder said. “These lads would have played. Harry would have been involved and Aaron would have been too. Without being too controversial, it’s changed too many times. First the elite clubs were going to be in and then, the next minute, they weren’t. The goalposts have been moved too often.”
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Shaun Harvey, chief executive of the Football League, insisted that inviting Premier League and some Championship clubs to enter under-23 teams would “reinvigorate the competition as well as assisting with the development of the very best young players in English football” when the controversial revamp was unveiled earlier this year. United drew their opening Group H tie with Leicester City two months ago but, because of the international fixture calendar, both sides entered the match missing youngsters who would otherwise have featured.
“The EFL and its clubs remain committed to producing more and better home grown players,” Harvey added, “Which will deliver benefits to both the domestic and international game.”
Wilder, whose side had also been set to face Walsall in the league this weekend until the contest was postponed because of international call-ups, appears unconvinced.
“Being a football manager, I have to be careful what I say,” he acknowledged. “But the punters vote with their feet and, if you ask them, the interest in the competition isn’t very high. It’s a shame.”