The EFL Trophy is down to the third round as teams from League One, League Two and the Premier League academy sides compete to reach the Wembley showpiece
The draw for the third round of this year’s Papa Johns Trophy took place on Saturday lunchtime.
We are guaranteed a new winner this year after holders Sunderland fell to a shock defeat in round two.
They were beaten 1-0 at home by Oldham Athletic. The reward for Keith Curle’s side is a third round tie at home to Wigan Athletic.
There are still two outstanding ties from round two yet to be completed. Tranmere Rovers will host Harrogate Town and Exeter City face Portsmouth on Tuesday, December 21.
Tranmere’s game was called off midweek due to damage to Prenton Park caused by Storm Arwen. The winners of that tie will host Carlisle United.
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As for Exeter and Pompey’s tie, that had to be rearranged due to the Grecians’ FA Cup involvement. The winners of that tie will travel to Cambridge United.
The third round ties are due to be played in the week commencing Monday, January 3, 2022.
The eight remaining sides will go through to an un-regionalised and unseeded quarter-final draw.
EFL Trophy third round draw
Crewe Alexandra v Rotherham United
Hartlepool United v Bolton
Tranmere or Harrogate v Carlisle United
Oldham Athletic v Wigan Athletic
Arsenal U21 v Chelsea U21
Cambridge v Exeter or Portsmouth
Charlton Athletic v MK Dons
Sutton United v Colchester United
Arsenal’s youngsters overcame Ipswich on Wednesday to set up the last-16 tie with Chelsea.
Kevin Betsy’s side had to come from 2-0 down against the League One side, with Folarin Balogun again catching the eye.
Speaking about the highly-rated striker post-match, Betsy said: “He (Balogun) could easily just train and be ready when called upon (by the first team) but he wants to get match minutes, match sharpness and he’s doing that with us.
“(He’s) showing an example to our young ones. When they’re thinking they want to be in the first team and at that level, they look at him and see, that’s the level — whatever position.
“His professionalism off the pitch is second to none and he’s a top character.”
Balogun has used this competition as a springboard for his flourishing for in the Premier League 2.
And that form has led to plenty of rumours as to whether he will be sold or loaned out by the Gunners in January.
Betsy added: “That’s a decision that comes from the club.
“Every player’s journey is different whether it’s to stay at the club and develop with the under-23s and then push for the first team or go on loan like Emile (Smith Rowe, who was sent out on January loans to RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town) did.
“His development is there for all to see. He’s scoring goals, making goals, being a threat. Today he’s playing against senior players and deals with it.”