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Canaries return to the Football Combination fold

PUBLISHED: 10:16 05 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:56 06 July 2010

Norwich City will once again field a reserve team in official matches after their application to join the Football Combination was accepted. City's second string will play in the eastern section, having spent the past season playing occasional friendlies against a mish-mash of sides, with Chelsea and Arsenal as well as Ridgeons League opponents among the opposition.

Norwich City will once again field a reserve team in official matches after their application to join the Football Combination was accepted.

City's second string will play in the eastern section, having spent the past season playing occasional friendlies against a mish-mash of sides, with Chelsea and Arsenal as well as Ridgeons League opponents among the opposition.

City will play home and away in a 10-strong league, which is completed by closest rivals Ipswich Town, Colchester United, Northampton Town, Stevenage Borough, Luton Town, Watford, Wycombe Wanderers, Southend United and Peterborough United.

In addition City are also considering whether or not to join a newly-formed Under-21s cup competition.

The day of the week on which home games in the Combination will be played has yet to be confirmed, but City boss Bryan Gunn welcomed the step back into the Combination.

“If you look at the teams involved there's a stronger look to the league than there has been in recent seasons,” he said.

“To have a proper fixture list and structure will help young players in their development and help more seasoned players who need fitness and games under their belt for whatever reason.

“Players last season not featuring in the 11 had no real game programme.”

There will also be the chance for City's Academy prospects - many of them now with professional deals - to step up their football education.

“It will give our young professionals the opportunity to play at a more senior level and to progress more quickly,” said Gunn, with first team coach Ian Crook, who took charge of reserve matches in the later stages of last season, set to play a key part in their development.

“Ian will be working closely with the young players and that was one of the roles he was brought in for, and Ian Butterworth and Paul Crichton will both be involved, too.”

The under-21 knockout competition will be run across the whole of the Totesport.com-sponsored Combination, not within regions, with a goalkeeper the only over-age player permitted.

Brentford, Crawley and Eastbourne Borough also sought election to the Combination, while Charlton, Cheltenham, Lewes and Yeovil withdrew.

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