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EFL Trophy preview: Knockout stages begin

The knockout stages of the 2022/23 EFL Trophy get underway this week with 15 fixtures taking place across Tuesday and Wednesday as teams look to engineer a route through to the last 16.

World Cup fever may be gripping the nation, but the action in Qatar is not the only football on the agenda this week, as teams from Leagues One and Two, as well as the remaining Premier League under-21 sides, compete in the EFL Trophy.

A total of 13 fixtures will be played in the round of 32 on Tuesday, with two more matches scheduled for Wednesday, while the remaining tie involving Everton U21 and Mansfield will take place the following midweek.

Glamour tie at Portman Road

What: Ipswich v Portsmouth

Where: Portman Road, Ipswich

When: 19:45, Tuesday 22nd November

Odds: Ipswich 17/20, Draw 14/5, Portsmouth 5/2

Former Premier League sides Ipswich and Portsmouth will be prioritising promotion from League One this season, but their focus on Tuesday will be on their meeting in the EFL Trophy at Portman Road.

Ipswich will head into the contest unbeaten in six matches across all competitions and they closed to within two points of league leaders Plymouth with a 2-0 victory at Exeter last time out.

Pompey's form cannot match that of the Tractor Boys, as Danny Cowley's side have slipped out of the play-off places in League One after winning just one of their last nine matches in the division.

That sequence includes a 3-2 defeat at Ipswich in October and Tuesday's hosts will fancy their chances of a repeat result at 17/20, although both managers may choose to rotate their line-ups heavily with FA Cup second-round fixtures to come this weekend.

Argyle going strong

What: Plymouth v Charlton

Where: Home Park, Plymouth

When: 19:00, Tuesday 22nd November

Odds: Plymouth 6/5, Draw 11/4, Charlton 31/20

Another glamour tie in the EFL Trophy this week will see League One leaders Plymouth welcome Charlton to Home Park.

Plymouth are on a 15-match unbeaten run in the league, although back-to-back draws against Lincoln and Burton has seen their advantage at the top of the standings cut over recent weeks.

The Pilgrims were also thrashed 5-1 away at Grimsby in the FA Cup at the start of the month, but all these slip-ups have come on the road, with Steven Schumacher's side remaining unflappable on their own patch, winning nine of their last 10 at Home Park.

The only home fixture Plymouth haven't won in 90 minutes during that time did come in the EFL Trophy against Bristol Rovers in the group stage, but even that match culminated in the hosts triumphing via a penalty shootout.

That impressive home record should put visitors Charlton on red alert. The Addicks did triumph 5-1 the last time these two sides met, although a lot has changed since that August clash at The Valley.

Plymouth are 6/5 to win this fixture, with the draw (and subsequent penalty shootout) available at 11/4, while the Charlton win is 31/20.

Under-21 meeting at Molineux

What: Wolverhampton U21 v Man Utd U21

Where: Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton

When: 19:00, Tuesday 22nd November

Odds: Wolverhampton U21 13/8, Draw 14/5, Man Utd 6/5

This is the seventh season since Category One academy teams were allowed to enter the EFL Trophy, but we are still waiting for the first under-21 team to make it through to the final.

That could change this season with five academy sides having made it through to the knockout stages, with two of those teams, Wolves U21 and Manchester United U21, set to meet at Molineux on Tuesday.

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Wolves eased into the round of 32 thanks to wins over Shrewsbury and Stockport, which meant their 2-0 loss at Port Vale during their final group match proved little more than academic.

Manchester United topped their group after beating Carlisle and Barrow, with their only loss coming via a penalty shootout to Fleetwood in their final group match.

Both teams will be keen to progress to give their youth players further exposure to competitive, senior football. Wolves are 13/8 to claim the victory with United 6/5.

Gloucestershire derby at The New Lawn

What: Forest Green v Cheltenham 

Where: The New Lawn, Nailsworth

When: 19:00, Tuesday 22nd November

Odds: Forest Green 21/20, Draw 11/4, Cheltenham 9/5

It will not just be a place in the round of 16 at stake at The New Lawn on Tuesday, as local bragging rights will also be up for grabs as Gloucestershire rivals Forest Green and Cheltenham go head to head.

Forest Green will be hoping for some cup respite, as they currently prop up the League One standings after failing to win any of their last seven matches in the third tier.

Cheltenham's form is not much better despite a 1-0 win against Wycombe on Saturday, as the Robins have won just two of their last nine matches across all competitions, a run that includes a 2-1 home defeat to non-league Alvechurch in the FA Cup.

This could prove a game lacking in quality given the form of the two sides, but Forest Green are 21/20 to claim the victory and they do have a good recent record against their local rivals, losing just one of the nine meetings between the two sides since they entered the EFL in 2017.

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