The Papa Johns Trophy is back as the competition gets underway this evening!
Here are five fixtures to look out for...
Carlisle on the verge of equalling competition record
It’s been 12 years since two-time winners Carlisle United – the team who have reached the Final more than any other Club, featuring six times – last lifted the trophy in 2011 overcoming Brentford 1-0 in the showpiece.
Under boss Paul Simpson, who returned to the hotseat with his hometown team in February, the Cumbrians will get the competition underway this evening when Manchester United Under-21s pay a visit to Brunton Park in Northern Group G.
Simpson last lead Carlisle to the 2006 Final as then-player-manager, when they were edged out by Swansea City at the Millennium Stadium, and this year they could equal Bristol City’s record three victories in the EFL Trophy.
Rams make competition debut
Derby County will make their debut in the Papa Johns Trophy, competing in the tournament for the first time ever this season, with the Rams taking on Grimsby Town on home soil this evening.
The Mariners return to the competition after winning promotion back to the EFL from the National League last season, and will be accompanied by Manchester City Under-21s and Mansfield Town in Northern Group F.
Former Finalists looking to go all the way
Last year’s Finalists Sutton United kick off their 2022/23 campaign at home to Chelsea Under-21s in Southern Group G, with the South Londoners looking to go one better this season in the competition.
In their inaugural season in the EFL, the U’s made it all the way to Wembley Stadium, losing out to Rotherham United in extra-time under the arch in the Final, and Matt Gray’s men could follow that impressive run to the home of football this season.
Joining Sutton and the Blues in Group G are Leyton Orient and Oxford United, who face off in the opening round of fixtures.
U’s defend impressive home streak
Both Cambridge United and Arsenal Under-21s reached the Quarter-Final last time around in the competition, before being ousted by Rotherham and Wigan Athletic respectively, whilst the young Gunners advanced the furthest out of the Category One sides.
And the two teams will meet in Southern Group H this year at the Abbey Stadium where the U’s boast a record of four home victories from a possible five in all competitions so far this campaign.
Cup specialists face off
On the back of Crawley Town’s 2-0 victory over Fulham in Round Two of the Carabao Cup last week, the Reds will be looking to make progress in another cup competition when they travel to Portsmouth in Southern Group B.
Portsmouth, on the other hand, won the competition in 2019 in front of a record crowd of 85,021 as they saw off Sunderland in the Final.