Leeds United U23s head coach Mark Jackson has sent a warning to EFL Trophy Group B rivals Tranmere, Oldham, and Salford City, claiming that his side are targetting qualification to the next round of the competition.
Jackson’s side travel to Prenton Park this evening to face League Two outfit Tranmere in their first match in Group B.
The competition is only open to sides in the EFL’s lower two tiers as well as 16 category one Premier League and Championship academy teams.
Leeds U23s are among those but struggled in the competition last term – finishing bottom of Group G after taking just one point from their three games, including a 7-0 hammering from Accrington Stanley.
The Yorkshire club’s academy system is well renowned and has fed Marcelo Bielsa’s first team over the past few years, with the likes of Jamie Shackleton and Pascal Struijk making the transition, so it’s no surprise that they’re looking to improve in this season’s competition.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Joe Urquhart, Jackson warned Tranmere, Oldham, and Salford that his side are looking to progress to the knock-out stages this term.
He said: “We want to compete and we want to go one step further in the competition this year and try to qualify from the group stages.”
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Jackson’s comments are a clear warning to their Group B competitors that his side are looking to improve on last year’s performances and cause some issues in 2021/22.
Given he leads an academy team in a senior competition, it would be easy for the Leeds coach to shy away from making such statements but he’s made it clear what their target is this term.
You’d say that the Whites have got a significantly easier group this season than in 2021/22 as Tranmere, Oldham, and Salford are all in League Two.
Leeds have worked hard to bring in talented young players in recent transfer windows and if they can build up some momentum then achieving their target of qualifying for the next round could just be the start.
Tonight’s game against Tranmere should be an indication of what we can expect from them.