From the start of the 2022/23 season, Premier League 2 will become an under-21 competition.
The amendment to the age limit, which was previously under-23, has been introduced as part of an ongoing review of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) to better align with the Papa Johns Trophy and international competitions.
The rule change is designed to reflect the reality of the players in the competition, whose average is currently 19.
Clubs will, however, be permitted to use five (previously three) over-age outfield players and one over-age goalkeeper, in order to transition from its under-23 format.
The aim is to continue providing opportunities for the best young players to play alongside and against older and more experienced players.
Premier League 2, which Derby County have competed in since 2014 after achieving Category One status for the Academy, is part of a suite of competitions that aims to best prepare players to make the transition to senior football.
This includes a variety of domestic cup competitions, matches involving senior opposition, such as through the Papa Johns Trophy, and competitions against international peers which will return this season in expanded formats, following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Premier League 2, which for the last two seasons has been won by Manchester City, continues to focus on technicality, physicality and intensity to bring players as close to first-team experience as possible.
Derby’s under-21s, managed by Pat Lyons, will compete in Premier League 2 - Division 2 in the 2022/23 season after a six-season stint in Premier League 2 - Division 1.
The Premier League is continually monitoring all elements of the academy system and making refinements accordingly.
Consultation is ongoing with clubs as part of a wider review of the Professional Development Phase Games Programme which will continue through the season.