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FOOT­BALL League Pa­per colum­nist Gra­ham West­ley fun­da­men­tally dis­agrees with the idea of invit­ing clubs from out­side Leagues One and Two to take part in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy.

“The idea of hav­ing the Premier League academy sides in­volved is lu­di­crous,” he said. “The Check­a­trade Tro­phy is the op­por­tu­nity for the havenots to go to Wem­b­ley.

“Play­ers in the lower leagues have very few op­por­tu­ni­ties in their ca­reers to play at Wem­b­ley. I’ve been there twice as a man­ager and it’s an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I don’t think it should be treated lightly.

“I don’t think it’s right the Premier League should be dip­ping their feet in it. Clubs at a higher level say their kids need a chance, but if they are good enough they will get loaned out and get op­por- Two or three games in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy isn’t go­ing to make or break a ca­reer.

“In fact, the com­pe­ti­tion could end up be­ing counter-pro­duc­tive. It could dis­cour­age play­ers from go­ing on loan be­cause they’ve got a chance to get to Wem­b­ley, but they would be much bet­ter off play­ing league games.

“In ad­di­tion, how can you have a com­pe­ti­tion in which League One and Two clubs have to play five play­ers who ap­peared in their pre­vi­ous league game or the next one, but Premier League clubs can play all their Un­der21s? It’s dou­ble stan­dards.” The for­mer Steve­nage, Pre­ston and Peter­bor­ough boss took over at New- County when they had lost their open­ing two matches in the com­pe­ti­tion and couldn’t qual­ify for the next round. They still had one group match left to play, though.

“It was a dead rub­ber and AFC Wim­ble­don brought a scratch side,” he said. “We beat them, but there was no-one in the sta­dium and it was a waste of time. A com­pe­ti­tion that cre­ates dead-rub­ber games is a waste of space.

“Per­son­ally, I would take the com­pe­ti­tion back to the way it was, a straight knock-out. There was noth­ing wrong with it. I don’t think the changes have added any­thing.”

UNIMPRESSED: Gra­ham West­ley

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