Sunderland are preparing to embark on their maiden Checkatrade Trophy campaign - and there are some key rules that Jack Ross’ side will need to be aware of.
While the Black Cats have previously fielded an under-23 team in the competition, this season will be the first time a senior Sunderland side has taken part in the revamped tournament.
And with Sunderland no longer being classed as an ‘invited club’, there are some big rule changes which could affect Ross’ squad selection for the visit of Stoke City under-23s tomorrow evening.
Here’s the key rules that Sunderland fans will need to be aware of:
How many first team players need to play in the Checkatrade Trophy?
There are some stringent squad selection rules for teams taking part in the Checkatrade Trophy, although they shouldn’t affect Sunderland too much.
Ross will simply need to name a minimum of four ‘qualifying players’ in his ten starting outfield players.
For the game against Stoke, a ‘qualifying player’ is a player will anyone who: started the game against Oxford on Saturday; or goes on to start the game against Fleetwood next weekend; or is one of Sunderland’s top ten appearance makers this season; or who has made over 40 first team appearances during their career; or is on loan from a Premier League club or an EFL club operating a category one academy.
Most of Sunderland’s first team players will tick at least one of those boxes, meaning that Ross should have no problems with fulfilling this criteria.
In terms of his goalkeeper, Ross has free reign so could hand a start to Robbin Ruiter or Max Stryjek.
Can teams be fined for breaking these Checkatrade Trophy squad selection rules?
Yes, teams will be fined up to £5,000 if they don’t adhere to these rules.
Do Checkatrade Trophy group stage games go to penalties?
Yes - if the game is level after 90 minutes then the group stage games go to penalties.
Teams are both awarded a point with the winners of the penalty shootout then awarded a bonus point.
Do league red cards count in the Checkatrade Trophy?
No they don’t. The Checkatrade Trophy is viewed as a standalone competition, meaning that red cards don’t transfer between the tournament and league fixtures.
That means that Max Power - who was sent off against Oxford on Saturday - will be eligible for the Stoke game.
And should any Sunderland players see red tomorrow evening, then they won’t be banned for any League One fixtures.