COLCHESTER United will be joined by Liverpool and Manchester United under-21s in next season's Checkatrade Trophy.

The Premier League giants have become the latest Category One Academy sides to make an appearance in the EFL competition, during the 2019/20 campaign.

They join the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal in fielding under-21 teams in next year’s competition, with the Premier League top six from the 2018/19 campaign set to be fully represented in the competition for the first time.

The format will see 16 invited teams joined by the 48 clubs in League One and League Two, including the U's.

The competition is now set up to provide EFL Clubs with a platform for some of the country’s most talented youngsters to experience first-team football, alongside an opportunity to create additional revenue.

However, it has been dogged by controversy since its revamp in 2016 and fans continue to voice their disapproval of the format, with many still boycotting games.

EFL Executive Chair Debbie Jevans said: “The EFL Trophy continues to grow and we are delighted to welcome Liverpool and Manchester United U21s to the competition.

“The recent feedback received from Clubs and coaches has been very positive with the current format continuing to offer greater revenue for our Clubs and competitive first team football for young talent.”

The round one group stage draw takes place next month, with the first round of fixtures scheduled to take place week commencing Monday, September 2.

Colchester failed to make it through the group stages of last season's competition, after winning one but losing two of their group games.

John McGreal's side beat Southend United but lost out to Southampton under-21s and Cambridge United.