Colchester United backed plans for the controversial EFL Checkatrade Trophy to continue in the same format, next season.

The Daily Gazette can reveal that the U’s were one of the clubs in League One and League Two who supported proposals to retain the 64-team format and allow the continued involvement of invited under-21 sides in the competition, for two further seasons.

Clubs were given the chance to have their say on the competition’s future format, with League One and League Two representatives meeting to share views.

They voted on three options – to retain 16 invited academy teams, revert to the old 48-team format or to abandon the competition.

And after last season’s trial which saw 16 Premier League and Championship under-21 sides play in the tournament, two-thirds of clubs opted to keep the format as it is, along with an increase in prize money and selection rule changes.

Under the Checkatrade Trophy alterations, EFL clubs will have more flexibility over selection and all of the under-21 teams’ games will be away, while there will also be regionalisation until the quarter-final stage.

The total competition fund will also be increased to £3million.

While they accept not every club feels the same way, Colchester are in favour of the Checkatrade Trophy format.

They liked the idea of their many talented youngsters pitting their wits against those of Category One academies.

But the tournament struggled for popularity last season and has been slated by some supporters, who have heavily criticised the inclusion of invited under-21 teams.

Colchester drew crowds of 791 and 548 for their home group games against Southampton under-21s and Charlton Athletic respectively at the Weston Homes Community Stadium last season, in keeping with the paltry attendances in the competition up and down the country.

Meanwhile, former Colchester loanee Tarique Fosu has been offered a new contract by Championship promotion hopefuls Reading.

Fosu made 35 appearances for the U’s while on loan from the Royals this season and scored six goals, including a brace in their final game of the season against Yeovil Town.