Youth football expert highlights why Under-21 teams struggle in Papa John's Trophy

We’re delighted to welcome the founder of Kinetic Academy Harry Hudson as our exclusive columnist. Each week the youth football expert will be giving his views on the biggest talking points on wonderkids across the UK…

The Papa John’s Trophy has included Under-21 teams from Premier League and Championship clubs for several seasons now.

Fans of League One and League Two clubs (who have contested the EFL Trophy for decades) have not been pleased with their introduction and recent seasons of the competition have seen record-low attendances at many games up and down the country.

With 16 groups of games comes 16 Under-21 sides but only three managed to qualify from the group stages which all came from the Southern section of the draw (Arsenal, Aston Villa and Chelsea)

Arsenal and Chelsea faced each other in the knockout round which saw a dismal 1,610 people turn up to watch the game at the Emirates Stadium.

Kinetic Academy founder Harry Hudson is a huge advocate for youth football but thinks that there is a very obvious reason as to why the youth sides struggle against senior outfits.

“I can safely say I have never watched a game of the Papa John’s Trophy,” Hudson told The Football Wonderkids. “I don’t know the level that it’s played at or the competitiveness of the games.

“But you do often see the League One and League Two teams going through rather than the Under-21 sides and I would have to watch a game to figure out why that might be.

“I would hazard a guess to say that it probably comes down to that culture shock of teams that play a different way and the Under-21 players of Premier League clubs not really understanding or appreciating that side of it.”

The new season of the Papa John’s Trophy kicks off this week with a trip to Wembley the prize for the two finalists.

In other Kinetic Academy news, loanees from Premier League youth sides have to hit the ground running in Hudson’s eyes.