The EFL Trophy will provide Liverpool's Academy prospects with the opportunity to experience the true demands of first-team football, U23s manager Neil Critchley has explained.

It was announced last month that the club would enter an U21 side in the competition for the very first time.

The Reds will be among the 16 Category One Academy teams in the 2019-20 tournament, alongside 48 clubs from League One and League Two.

"The obvious [benefit] is playing against men, which we don't get too many times at U23 level," Critchley told Liverpoolfc.com.

"Playing against senior players, men, experienced players is different to playing in some of the games we play.

"Playing in stadiums, in front of supporters brings out that little bit of added pressure.

"You want to see our players play under pressure at this age because the next step is the biggest step to take."

The draw for the group stages of the EFL Trophy – which first invited Category One Academy teams to enter back in 2016-17 – takes place later this month.

The first round of matches are scheduled to be played in the week commencing September 2 and, in line with tournament rules, Liverpool will play all group matches away from home.

Critchley added: "It's something that we've looked at and discussed over the last 12 months, two years really. We felt this year was the right time to enter that competition.

"Talking to other teams and coaches who have been in that competition, they've talked highly of the competition and what it brought.

"We think it's something different to our programme, something we can't give to them through our normal games programme.

"Hopefully that'll be an added bonus for our players this season."

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