Blackpool make their bow in the new Checkatrade Trophy tonight – but manager Gary Bowyer isn’t happy about it.
The Seasiders welcome Cheltenham Town to Bloomfield Road (7.45pm) for their opening group tie.
The competition replaces the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for League One and Two teams, with the addition of Under-23 sides from higher-level clubs.
No longer a straight knockout, the opening stage involves four-team groups, with Pool travelling to Bolton (October 4) and facing Everton’s youngsters (November 8). While Bowyer is irked by some of the competition rules, he’s especially unhappy at the timing of the first match.
The Pool boss said: “It’s our eighth game in August and the day before the (transfer) window closes.
“I’m sure you’ll hear lots of managers talking about it and I’ll bet there are not many talking positively about it.”
The competition has come in for plenty of criticism. Sixteen category one Academy sides were invited to take part, with the apparent aim of developing younger players, though both Manchester clubs along with Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle have all declined.
As well as the usual three points for a win and one for a draw, there will be a chance to earn two points via penalty shoot-outs which will follow any games that are level after 90 minutes.
The top two in each of the 16 groups will go through to the knockout stages. As in the JPT, teams must include players who featured in their latest League match. Bowyer added: “We have to play five who played against Plymouth. I see it as a missed opportunity for some of my younger players.
“They are talking about it being a development thing but it’s stopping the development of some of my younger players.
“We’ve got players who need minutes, players coming back from injuries and younger players doing ever so well but we have to play five from Saturday.”
Bowyer isn’t ruling out one last move in the transfer market before the window closes at 11pm tomorrow. With the emergency loan system scrapped, clubs must wait until January for the next chance to recruit.
Having reshaped his squad over the summer, Bowyer would welcome an additional goalkeeper following Kyle Letheren’s move to York last week.
Inexperienced teenager Myles Boney was the manager’s only bench option last weekend as cover for number one Sam Slocombe.
Bowyer said: “We can’t leave ourselves short with two keepers.
“Myle has done ever so well from when he first came in to where he is now.”
Latest signing Jack Payne had a memorable debut on Saturday after his move from Peterborough.
The midfielder was sent off within six minutes of coming off the bench, referee Nigel Miller deeming that his foul on Jake Jervis had denied a goalscoring opportunity.
Bowyer backed the 24-year-old, saying: “It’s his debut and he’s desperate to do well.
“He’s already got himself sorted with accommodation and he wants to make a success of his career.”