FA launch new Under-21 cup in effort to further develop youth football but Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham opt out

51 clubs will contest the new competition in the wake of FA chairman Greg Dyke's concerns over a lack of young English footballers reaching their potential

The Premier League will launch its new Under-21 cup competition on Monday, declaring it to be another positive step forward in the development of younger players.

Although Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham have opted out, 51 academies have entered, including Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, with the draw for the first two rounds on Monday featuring four Premier League clubs.

All matches have to be played in proper stadiums, which - in the week after Football Association chairman Greg Dyke expressed his concerns about the number of English youngsters forcing their way into the top flight - Premier League director of youth Ged Roddy feels is another significant development.

"The introduction of an Under-21 cup creates another competitive opportunity for players up and down the country, which can enhance and support what we're doing with the Barclays Under-21 Premier League," said Roddy.

"Players who come through the academy system have been playing on training grounds since they were nine in some cases," he said.

"One of the characteristics of that transition from the academy player to the professional player is the stadium experience, dealing with games that they need to win and dealing with, on occasions, a hostile environment that is created by a big crowd, and sometimes a very supportive environment."

Entrants at Qualifying Round 1 stage (category three academies). Northern: Burnley, Doncaster, Hull, Wigan, Preston (one bye). Southern: AFC Wimbledon, Bournemouth, Bristol Rovers, Colchester, Exeter, Gillingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Torquay, Watford.

Qualifying Round 2 (category two academies). Northern: Barnsley, Birmingham, Coventry, Crewe, Derby, Huddersfield, Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday (one bye). Southern: Brighton, Bristol City, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Millwall, Queens Park Rangers and Swansea.

Round of 32 (category one academies). Northern: Blackburn, Bolton, Everton, Leicester, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Stoke, Sunderland, West Brom, Wolves. Southern: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Fulham, Norwich, Reading, Southampton, West Ham.

PA

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