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Man Utd and Liverpool Under-21 sides to compete in EFL Trophy

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Manchester United and Liverpool will field their Under-21 sides in the EFL Trophy for the first time next season.

The clubs have previously refrained from taking part in the competition but the English Football League has announced that the Premier League's top six will now be fully represented.

United and Liverpool's Under-21 sides are the latest Category One Academy teams to take part, forming part of the 16 invited teams that will join the 48 League One and League Two clubs in the competition.

Involvement in the EFL Trophy will help United fill the void left by their absence from the UEFA Youth League, with the failure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side to reach the Champions League meaning they missed out.

Nicky Butt, the club's head of academy, said: "We are looking forward to being involved in the EFL Trophy next season.

"The competition provides a range of experiences that will act as the ideal platform for the development of our homegrown talent.

"We are always looking to be innovative in order to find the best development path for our young players; the opportunity to face senior opponents will benefit them greatly."

Portsmouth won this year's EFL trophy thanks to a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory over Sunderland after the game ended 2-2 after extra-time.

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Keita to miss Champions League final for Liverpool

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Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita's recovery from a thigh problem is ahead of schedule but he is unlikely to be fit enough to feature in the Champions League final.

The Guinea international could, however, be back in time for the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts on June 21.

Keita tore an adductor muscle in the 3-0 semi-final first leg defeat in Barcelona and the initial prognosis was a two-month absence.

But having responded well to treatment the midfielder, who is out in Marbella with the rest of the squad preparing for the June 1 clash with Tottenham in Madrid, has now returned to running.

"Naby is, I would say, a bit ahead of schedule, but that doesn't mean anything for the final," manager Jurgen Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.

"He is now doing straight runs and all of that stuff, he feels comfortable with 50 per cent intensity and these things - but there is still a way to go.

"I know about the issues with Guinea and stuff like that; we don't want to keep a player out if he can play - maybe they think it is like this, but it is not like this.

"For me, it would be good if Naby would be 100 per cent fit and could play the Africa Cup of Nations, to be honest.

"But we don't know, we will see, and we need to work together with their medical department because in the end, a player who is fit - from my point of view - who can play, should play for his country.

"If he is not 100 per cent fit, he cannot play. That's how it is. It looks good, very positive and we will see if there is a chance."

Fit-again Firmino returns to Liverpool training

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Forward Roberto Firmino has given Liverpool a Champions League final boost by returning to training.

The Brazil international has missed the last three matches with a thigh problem but was able to take part in the first session of the squad's pre-final camp in Marbella.

Firmino was the first player to arrive on the south coast of Spain having attended slightly earlier than his team-mates for some individual sessions with strength and rehabilitation staff.

Liverpool said his reintroduction into full team training "will be carefully managed under their supervision, with specialised programmes planned over the coming days".

The 26-man squad is spending six days in Marbella before returning to England to finalise preparations for their June 1 meeting with Tottenham in Madrid.

Included in that group is Naby Keita, who continues his rehabilitation from a serious groin problem suffered almost three weeks ago and is not in contention for the final.

Defender Trent Alexander-Arnold has the chance to set a new record if he is selected in the XI to face Tottenham in Madrid.

Should that happen the 20-year-old will become the first player aged under 21 to start consecutive finals in Europe's premier club competition.

The previous youngest was AC Milan's Christian Panucci with AC Milan in 1994 and 1995.

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