Huge Premier League 2 format change as Leeds United youngsters prepare for life in second tier

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Next season’s Premier League 2 is to become an under-21s competition after a change in format. The competition was previously for under-23s, but the alteration has come as part of an ongoing review of the Elite Player Performance Plan.

Clubs will be able to use up to five overage outfield players, though, an increase on last year’s limit of three, with an overage goalkeeper being allowed as well as the new rules come into effect. That means those teams taking part in the competition will be able to continue naming their more experienced players as and when required, which is seen as beneficial for the development of the younger players.

However, given the average age of those playing in the competition is 19, the changes to the age limit have been made in order to reflect those taking part. The change shouldn’t make too much of an impact on Leeds United, who have built up an impressive squad of young talent below Jesse Marsch’s first-team ranks.

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Those set to be involved heavily in the second string at Elland Road next season will all be aged 21 or lower, but they will have the opportunity to field first-teamers should they need the game time, too. Leeds are still looking for a head coach to take on their under-21s side and after relegation from English youth football’s top flight, they will be competing in Division 2 of Premier League 2 next season.

As such, rather than facing the academies of Man City, who have now won Division 1 two seasons running, Chelsea and Man United on a regular basis, they’ll be testing themselves against their counterparts from the likes of Southampton, Newcastle United and Aston Villa. Leeds gave Premier League opportunities to a number of their most impressive youngsters last season and the club are keen to continue feeding homegrown talent into the first-team picture.

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