Southampton have been confirmed as participants in the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy, with newcomers Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Fulham taking their place in next season’s competition.
Saints are one of the Category One status Academies invited to pit their wits against 48 League One and League Two sides after the change in format last season.
Martin Hunter’s men reached the knockout stages of the competition in 2016/17, before losing out to Reading on penalties.
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey said: “I was delighted when EFL Clubs collectively backed the competition following a full and comprehensive review of last season’s pilot format and we can see from the increasing interest from Category One Academies that the Checkatrade Trophy has genuine appeal.
“The competition provides a unique challenge to young players and seasoned professionals alike. I strongly believe players from League One and League Two clubs will look forward to taking on some of the country’s brightest prospects, who will themselves learn a lot from participating in a first team competition."