Liverpool today learned their opponents in the group stages of this season's EFL Trophy.

Neil Critchley’s U21s team have entered the competition for the first time, with eight Category One academies facing off against sides from League One and League Two.

Today’s draw pitched the Reds into Group B against League One’s Accrington Stanley and Fleetwood Town, plus League Two’s Oldham Athletic.

The academy sides will play all of their group games away from home to increase their experience of playing on league grounds, with fixture dates still to be confirmed.

“It’s going to be tough, but that’s why we’re in the competition,” Critchley told Liverpoolfc.com.

“It’s a different competition and we’re going to be learning as we go but we’re Liverpool and we’ll be looking to try to win every game.

“Accrington have got the managerial pair of John Coleman and Jimmy Bell, both Kirkby lads, so they will be delighted to be playing us. There’s no doubt they’ll have a few Liverpool lads in their line-up, like Sean McConville.

“At Fleetwood, they’ve just signed Jordan Rossiter on loan. He came through our Academy, as well as Nathan Sheron, so it’ll be good to see so many familiar faces.

“We always keep an eye on our former players and take pleasure in their progress, even if it is elsewhere.

“Travel-wise it’s a decent draw and overall we’re really looking forward to it.”

The tournament format involves 16 regionalised groups of four with the top two qualifying for the last 32.

Knockout games will be decided by penalty shootouts if level after 90 minutes except the final, which will be held at Wembley on April 5, 2020.

Last season, Portsmouth lifted the trophy after beating Sunderland on penalties. No academy side progressed further than the quarter-finals.

Six players in the Liverpool starting line-up for all games must be under the age of 21 on June 30 this year.

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