Liverpool set for reunion with 3 ex-Reds after cup draw

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Liverpool’s youngsters will be handed the opportunity to test themselves against senior pros for the third season in succession, with a few familiar faces lined up as opposition.

The EFL Trophy tournament, newly named Papa John’s Trophy, sees invited under-21s sides from ‘Category One’ clubs face off against senior opposition from League One and League Two.

For the third season, the young Reds have been placed alongside 16 other academy Premier League teams and tied to a group.

This time out, Liverpool’s U21s will meet Port Vale, Rochdale and Bolton in Group D as they seek to exit the group stage for the first time having picked up just one point from their six games over two seasons.

The Reds will come up against League Two’s Port Vale once more in 2021/22, which is home to David Amoo who was an academy graduate who went on to play one game at senior level for Liverpool in the Europa League back in 2010.

The winger has been with Port Vale since 2019 but struggled to break into the team throughout 2020/21 after injury and a managerial change.

NUNEATON, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 30, 2017: Liverpool's Jordan Williams during a pre-season friendly between Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven at the Liberty Way Stadium. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

At Bolton, who secured automatic promotion back to League One, they have two former Reds in MJ Williams and George Johnston on their books.

Williams joined Liverpool at under-14s level and remained at the club for nine years, which did include a debut in the League Cup tie against Middlesbrough – which you may remember for its 30 penalties in the shootout, where he converted one.

Now at Bolton, Williams is teammates with Johnston following his switch earlier in the summer after a loan spell at Wigan, with the defender another Liverpool academy graduate who had donned the captain’s armband for the U23s prior to his departure in 2019.

DERBY, ENGLAND - Friday, March 8, 2019: Liverpool's captain George Johnston leads his side out with goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher before the FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Derby County FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at the Derby County FC Training Centre. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The competition provides another welcome chance to blood the club’s youngsters against senior opposition, where only group winners and runners-up will qualify for the round of 32.

It proved beneficial for Neco Williams in the first year and you can expect the likes of Billy Koumetio, Conor Bradley, Tyler Morton, Mateusz Musialowski and Kaide Gordon to feature this time around.

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