Rafa Benitez reveals why Newcastle entered the Checkatrade Trophy

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez will tell Newcastle United’s young players to use the Checkatrade Trophy as a stepping stone to first-team football.

The club will field an Under-21 team in the controversial competition this season.

And Newcastle have been drawn in a group with Crewe Alexandra, Oldham Athletic and Port Vale.

Benitez chose not to enter the Checkatrade Trophy last season when the club was in the Championship.

But United’s manager feels that the tournament, which drew critisism for low attendances and the involvement of top flight clubs, will give valuable playing time to the club’s Academy prospects.

Asked if the competition could aid the developement of players at the club, Benitez said: “I think every year it’s more difficult because of the money.

“You can bring more players from abroad. Normally, if you bring players from abroad, they have to be better.

“So for the young lads, for the homegrown boys, it’s always more difficult to have an opportunity in the first team.

“But it’s important for them to keep going, to keep working hard, and if they have talent, it’s ideal for any manager to have a player with talent in the Academy.

“It’s easy to move him to the first team, but they will need some time.

“I think the idea of the Academy is to change little things and to have the structure in place that will allow them to continue progressing.

“They are working hard behind the scenes trying to do something a little bit different, and I think that will be good for the boys. We will see how they progress in the future.”

The Checkatrade Trophy will feature 64 teams.

All EFL League One and Two clubs are automatically entered, while 16 Category One Premier League Academy sides, including United, have accepted invites.

United are away for all three group fixtures.

Meanwhile, Metz are reportedly considering a move for Newcastle striker Emmanuel Riviere.

Riviere, signed from Monaco three years ago, is not in manager Rafa Benitez’s plans.

The 27-year-old spent last season on loan at Spanish club Osasuna.

Newcastle said Riviere had signed a “long-term contract” when he joined in the summer of 2014 in a £6million, but did not disclose the length of the deal.

A report in France claims that the former France Under-21 international has just a year left on his United deal.

Riviere has scored three goals for Newcastle, the last of which came against Queens Park Rangers in May 2015.

Benitez is keen to move a number of players, including Riviere, out of the club this summer.

Riviere reported back to Newcastle for the start of pre-season training last week.

It is not clear whether it will be involved in Friday night’s friendly against Heart of Midlothian at Tynecastle.