Wolverhampton Wanderers U21s v Everton U21s
Everton Under-21s begin their new league season against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening (7pm kick off).
The young Blues travel to Telford’s New Bucks Head Stadium after completing their four-match pre-season schedule with a game in Spain last week.
Coach Alan Stubbs is hopeful that his side can continue the promise shown in the second half of last season from the outset this term.
The Under-21s strung together an unbeaten 16-match sequence between November and May before losing out to Tottenham in the play-off semi-finals.
Stubbs will definitely be without Luke Garbutt for Monday’s match, with the left-back away on international duty with England Under-21s.
He told evertontv: “All the matches seemed to be tough. You see from last year that the standard has risen and it will be no different.
“Wolves have obviously been on the back of two relegations which, from a club point of view, is a disaster. They will still have a lot of younger players and, if anything, they will put the emphasis on these players coming through.
“We’ll go there and, as always, we’ll concentrate on what we do rather than what the other teams do. We’ll go there, know our job and know what is expected of us.
“If we can have anything like the level we had last season with our performances and results then we will be very happy.”
For a second year in succession, the Premier League have revamped the format of the second-string competition.
Last season’s three-tiered setup has been scrapped and replaced with a 22-team league in which clubs play each other once, either home or away.
Once all 21 fixtures have been completed, the top four sides will advance to a semi-final and final stage.
Additionally, each team is obliged to play at least three matches at their home first team venue.
However, the element of the new format which excites Under-21s coach Stubbs the most is the reintroduction of the north-west derbies.
He said: “No matter what the format will be and what it turns out to be, there are going to be clubs that are happy and not happy with it.
“I feel a bit sorry for the Premier League sometimes because no matter what they do they are [perceived] as the bad guys.
“I think it’s good this year we are playing Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City. It was a bit strange as they are the closest clubs to us but we didn't play them at all last season.”
Follow the action in Monday's match with regular updates on the Club's official Twitter account. Catch highlights on evertontv later this week.