Derby County will compete in the newly-formed Under-21 League this season, under the new Elite Player Performance Plan which has been introduced throughout the Premier League and Football League this summer.
The EPPP is an ambitious long-term vision with the aim of giving English football the ability to create the best Academy system in the world, allowing clubs to produce more and better quality home grown players.
It has been developed after consultations with Academy Managers, Premier League clubs, the Football League, the Football Association, and other key stakeholders within the game.
The creation of the new Under 21 League has been brought into play to bridge the gap between clubs' academies and their first team.
Derby have applied for Category 2 status in the EPPP, so as a result the Under-21 Team will compete in the Under 21 Professional Development League 2 – North, while Derby’s Under-18 side will play in the Under 18 Professional Development League 2 – North.
The emphasis will be on playing Under 21 players, with each team limited to three overage outfield players and one overage goalkeeper.
Following the decision to introduce the Under 21 League, Derby have made the decision to withdraw from the Reserve League.
Manager Nigel Clough commented: “We’ve had a great few years in the Reserve League, winning it twice, but our resources cannot stretch to fielding a First Team, Reserve Team, Under 21 Team and an Under 18 team at this moment – especially with games falling so close to each other.”
The Rams are still in discussions with a number of clubs regarding when their fixtures will be played, so please note that the Under 21 Fixture List which has been published today is subject to change. Home games will be played at Moor Farm Training Ground, while two matches are required to be played at Pride Park Stadium.
Derby County U21 Fixtures: Professional Development League 2 – NORTH
Kick-Offs 1pm unless stated
Wed 22 Aug: Leeds United (a)
Mon 27 Aug: Leicester City (h) *
Sat 1 Sept: Sheffield Wednesday (a)
Wed 19 Sept: Huddersfield Town (h)
Mon 24 Sept: Nottingham Forest (a)
Mon 1 Oct: Crewe Alexandra (h)
Mon 8 Oct: Birmingham City (a)
Mon 22 Oct: Sheffield United (a)
Mon 29 Oct: Wigan Athletic (h)
Wed 7 Nov: Leeds United (h)
Sat 17 Nov: Barnsley (a)
Mon 3 Dec: Sheffield Wednesday (h)
Mon 14 Jan: Coventry City (a)
Mon 21 Jan: Nottingham Forest (h)
Sat 26 Jan: Huddersfield Town (a)
Mon 11 Feb: Crewe Alexandra (a)
Mon 25 Feb: Birmingham City (h)
Wed 6 Mar: Sheffield United (h)
Mon 11 Mar: Wigan Athletic (a) 2pm
Mon 18 Mar: Barnsley (h)
Sat 30 Mar: Leicester City (a)
Mon 8 Apr: Coventry City (h) *
Sat 4 May: Semi Final
Sat 11 May: Final
* To be played at Pride Park Stadium.
Please note, all fixtures and venues are subject to change. Changes will be communicated on dcfc.co.uk as soon as possible.