Derby County’s under-21 team will play their first game of their Professional Development League 2 North campaign today.
The Rams’ under-21 side, which will be managed by Derby’s first-team coaching staff this season, will open their campaign with a trip to Yorkshire to take on Leeds United.
Kick-off is at 1pm at Leeds’ Thorp Arch Training Ground and the Rams are expected to hand run-outs to the likes of Stefan Galinski, Valentin Gjokaj, Michael Hoganson, Mason Bennett, Conor Doyle and Josh Lelan – while striker Theo Robinson will be one of Derby’s overage players after failing to make the first-team squad for last night’s clash at Bolton Wanderers.
Under rules of the newly-introduced Elite Player Performance Plan, which came into play in time for the start of this season after being officially accepted midway through last season, Derby will compete in the new-look Under 21 League for the first time.
Home games will be played at Moor Farm Training Ground, although rules state two games must be played at each clubs’ individual home stadium, with the home matches with Leicester City and Coventry City in August and April being Derby’s selected fixtures.
The creation of a new Under 21 competition has been brought into play to bridge the gap between clubs' academies and their first team, although Derby have recently shown a pathway to the first-team for youngsters with Mason Bennett and Will Hughes making their debuts aged 15 and 16 last season.
The emphasis will be on playing Under 21 players, with each team limited to three overage outfield players and one overage goalkeeper.
dcfc.co.uk will be in attendance at Thorp Arch today to provide a review of the game later this afternoon.