BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Lee Bowyer reckons the EFL Trophy should have been scrapped this season – calling it a ‘stupid cup’ that ‘nobody cares about’.
Clubs from Leagues One and Two compete with designated u21 sides from Premier League and Championship outfits in a tournament that is now referred to as the Papa John’s Trophy after a tie-up with a takeaway pizza company.
The coronavirus pandemic has already seen the league season compressed into a much shorter amount of time – heaping the workload on a Charlton side who will have played eight games in four weeks by the time they face Leyton Orient in the EFL Trophy at The Valley on Tuesday.
The Addicks cannot progress through to the next round of the competition after losing to AFC Wimbledon and drawing with Brighton’s u21s, despite taking a bonus point for winning a penalty shoot-out against the young Seagulls.
“For sure,” said Bowyer, when asked if he felt the tournament should have been mothballed this year.
“These competitions are not for us. These competitions ain’t for clubs like us, they’re not. They’re for the Premier League teams to play their u21s in there. They’re not for us. What are we gaining from it? Maybe a little bit of experience for our young lads but it’s silly. It’s pathetic.
“A stupid cup. No one cares. Who cares about it? I bet there’s not many who care about this cup. It’s not for us. I don’t know where it’s come from, I don’t think it was around when I was playing. It’s silly.
“You have a team that can put their u21 team in it. Who’s that for? That’s not a rule. What sort of competition is that. A Premier League team can put in their u21s. Pathetic.”
The Addicks do have some respite as next weekend’s league game with Rochdale has been postponed due to international call-ups – but the break won’t apply to all of their squad.
Conor Washington will represent Northern Ireland during the European Championship qualification play-off against Slovakia, before a Nations League double-header against Austria and Romania.
Welshmen Jonny Williams, Chris Gunter and Dylan Levitt will also have three games over the international break as they take on the USA in a friendly before Nations League ties with the Republic of Ireland and Finland.
Bowyer also thinks that international football is asking simply too much of the players during this congested fixture list.
He said: “Again, it’s like the cups. We’re trying to cram a million things into this season. We’ve got these stupid cups and we’ve got international players now.
“I’ve been speaking to my lads, they’ve played Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, for I don’t know how long. And now they’re going to play three games in 10 days with their national team. What the hell is going on? What are they trying to do to the players?
“As if they’re not getting punished enough by cramming league games in. Then you’ve got to throw in stupid cup games here, there and everywhere. And now they’ve got to go away and play three games in 10 days with their national side. It’s just crazy.
“When they come back and they’re injured for us, or they get injured because they’ve just played three games in 10 days, on the Saturday when they come back to us. It’s crazy. I don’t get it, me. I don’t get it.”
PHOTOS: KYLE ANDREWS
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