Everton’s youngsters launch their Checkatrade Trophy campaign at League Two Notts County tonight (7.45pm).
David Unsworth’s Under-23s got their competitive season under way with a scoreless draw at West Ham last Friday – a game they were inches from winning when Jonjoe Kenny’s second-half strike thudded into a post.
Attention now turns from the Premier League 2 to cup football and a trip for the young Blues to the Magpies’ Meadow Lane to take on Kevin Nolan’s team.
Former Bolton and Newcastle midfielder Nolan led his side to a 2-0 victory over Chesterfield on Saturday, one week after they went down 3-0 at Coventry on the opening day of the season.
Everton made their Checkatrade Trophy debut last season, and this term are one of 16 Category One Academies invited to join League One and League Two clubs in the competition.
Unsworth’s team are in northern Group G, which also contains County’s League Two counterparts Mansfield and Lincoln City.
The top two will progress to the last-32, with the format of the tournament then reverting to a straight knockout – leading to a Wembley final on 8 April.