Leeds United discover cup opponents as Whites face tough task en route to Wembley

Leeds United's Under-21 side have been drawn into Group B in this season's Papa John's Trophy

By Joe Donnohue
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 11:44 am

Leeds' youngsters face trips to Bolton Wanderers, Crewe Alexandra and Tranmere Rovers this season as they look to make it out of Papa John's Trophy group stage for the first time as an Under-21 outfit.

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The young Whites have previously faced Accrington Stanley, Blackpool, Barrow, Salford City, Oldham Athletic and Tranmere over the past two seasons, recording one victory over the Latics at Boundary Park.

HONOUR: The 2022/23 Papa John's Trophy draw has taken place with Leeds' Under-21s involved for the third season running (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The competition pits senior sides in England's third and fourth tiers against Under-21 teams from the Premier League's elite academies, often creating individual match-ups where players vastly differ in age.

Last season, then-15-year-old Archie Gray made his Under-21 debut away to Tranmere against the likes of veteran defender Peter Clarke who turned 40 years of age during 2021/22.

Whilst that is an extreme example, the introduction of Under-21 outfits to the competition is supposed to aid youngsters in their preparation for senior football.

Leeds fared reasonably well last season, despite not making it out of the Northern Section group stage, defeating League Two Oldham courtesy of a blistering first half from Crysencio Summerville.

The young Whites also scored three times against Salford City, but were beaten 5-3 and subsequently eliminated from the competition.

This time around, Leeds' Under-21s will travel to the University of Bolton Stadium, Gresty Road and Prenton Park in this year's competition.

Leeds were beaten 4-1 by Tranmere in last season's group stage, whilst League One outfit Bolton pose a tricky test for the Whites youngsters.