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Club to compete in Barclays U21 Premier League

The Club will compete in the inaugural Barclays Under-21 Premier League next season.

The new league is part of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) and has been devised as part of the new system that will help bridge the gap between Academy and First Team.

We're one of 23 clubs taking part, 17 from the Premier League and six from the Championship.

The teams have been split into two groups of eight and one of seven, with a full home and away programme in the initial group stage.

We will kick-off with a trip to Newcastle on Saturday, August 18 - the same day we open our Premier League campaign with a 5.30pm kick-off at St James' Park.

The groups are as follows:

National Group One - Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Norwich City, Reading, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United.

National Group Two - Aston Villa, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford.

National Group Three - Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

After this first group stage, the clubs will be placed into three groups based on their performance.

The top three teams from National Group One and Two and the top two sides from National Group Three will qualify for the Elite Group, with the other clubs making it into Qualification Group Tier One or Qualification Group Tier Two depending on their finishing position.

The teams will again play home and away with the top three teams from the Elite Group qualifying for the knockout semi-finals.

The winners of the two Qualification Groups will take part in a play-off to decide who will make up the quartet. The semi-final winners will then contest the final.

The emphasis will be on playing U21 players with each team limited to just three over-age outfield players and one over-age goalkeeper.

Here are our National Group Two fixtures:

Saturday, August 18 v Newcastle (A), KO 12pm - Newcastle United Training Ground
Wednesday, August 29 v Manchester United (A), KO 7pm - Altrincham FC
Saturday, September 1 v Sunderland (H), KO 11am - venue TBC
Monday, September 17 v Watford (H), KO 12pm - venue TBC
Monday, September 24 v Southampton (a), KO 7pm - St Mary's Stadium
Monday, October 1 v Aston Villa (H), KO 12pm - venue TBC
Monday, October 8 v Watford (A), KO 7pm - Vicarage Road
Saturday, October 27 v Manchester United (H), KO 11am - venue TBC
Saturday, November 3 v Newcastle (H), KO 11am - venue TBC
Monday, November 12 v Southampton (H), KO 2pm - venue TBC
Sunday, November 18 v Stoke (A), KO 3pm - Britannia Stadium
Sunday, December 2 v Watford (H), KO 1pm - venue TBC
Monday, December 10 v Sunderland (A), KO 7pm - venue TBC
Monday, December 17 v Aston Villa (A), KO 7pm - venue TBC