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U's to play in new under-21 league
Colchester United ’s youngsters will compete in a brand new under-21 league this season.
The U’s will take on the likes of Ipswich Town , Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers, in the revolutionary new competition.
As a result the traditional reserve format, which had been heavily criticised by coaches, is set to be ditched.
Development coach Richard Hall is likely to preside over the U’s under-21 side, which will also include over-age first team players returning from injury.
U’s fans will be able to watch the club’s future stars at the Weston Homes Community Stadium , on Monday nights.
The revamp is part of the Elite Player Performance Plan, which is designed to aid the progression of young players in this country.
The standard of competition is set to be high, with the U’s set to be granted Category Two status for the coming season.
U’s first-team manager John Ward said: “We’re going into an under-21 league and there are some appetizing games to look forward to.
“We will need these guys to learn their trade very quickly.
“We will have 17 and 18 year olds in that but that’s what we’re trying to do.
“We have a lot of things that we’re trying to put in place here, from youth team level up.
“My priority also has to be the first team.
“To develop those youth team players, you have to give them good grounding.
“They’re not going to just shoot through and play 40 games - it doesn’t happen.
“The club needs to be stable and at the same time, try to move ahead at senior level.
“We might not have quite as many senior players as we had last year.
“But we’ve got some very good ones who have a record of playing plenty of football at first-team level.
“The whole thing is a plan - if you can do that in football - to look after the next two or three years.
“We want to develop what we have underneath but maintain and improve what we have at the top.”
See Tuesday's Gazette for more on this story and all of the latest Colchester United news.