SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown has backed plans for next season’s Checkatrade Trophy.

Premier League side’s under 21 teams will continue to compete in the competition for the next two years.

And Brown believes the plan should be encouraged.

“The competition worked for me last year so I think it’s good it’s continuing,” said Brown.

“It was the under 23 teams who were eventually invited to play but there are a lot of talented players around in that age-group so it’s all very positive in my opinion.

“The competition worked well for us too. We gave Anton Ferdinand his debut in it to get minutes under his belt and we were also able to hand two or three younger players their debuts.

“The only thing that didn’t work in our favour was that we got knocked out too early, losing to Oxford on penalties.

“They went on to get to the final and nearly 75,000 fans to see it so it that was a big success.”

The introduction of under 21 teams angered a number of supporters but clubs in League One and League Two have voted in favour of retaining top-flight youth sides in the competition following this term’s trial format.

Clubs voted on whether to retain the current format, revert to a 48-team knockout competition or scrap the tournament altogether.

Blues have opted to keep how they voted in-house but two thirds of the English Football League clubs canvassed voted in favour of extending the Premier League youth outfits’ continued participation.

And the EFL’s chief executive Shaun Harvey has welcomed the news.

“The history of the EFL Trophy is one of new ideas and innovation, but at its heart has always been the belief that this is an opportunity for League One and League Two clubs to taste cup success.”

“I am therefore delighted to see the backing the Checkatrade Trophy has received from our clubs for the next two seasons.

The EFL has also moved to make reassurances that the inclusion of Premier League youth teams is not the forerunner to the addition of top-flight B teams to league competition.