ACADEMY boss Joe Roach pledged his support for the introduction of Premier League under-21 teams in the Football League Trophy – but Cherries will not be included.

The top-flight's 16 clubs with a category one Academy will field under-21 sides in the competition traditionally contested by League One and Two clubs in a one-off trial next season.

A new format will see 16 regionalised groups of four teams with the top two in each qualifying for the round of 32 before a straight knockout in a bid to reach a Wembley final.

The changes prompted a mixed reaction with Portsmouth, Accrington Stanley, Hartlepool, Luton and AFC Wimbledon among those to officially announce they had voted against any shake up.

As a category three set up, Cherries are not eligible but Roach reckons the move is a positive step forward for the development of English youngsters.

Roach told the Daily Echo: "I went to the Premier League meeting in Manchester where they discussed how to provide more competitive fixtures.

"There are some under-21 players who are getting less game time than under-18s, yet they are a step closer to the first team. I was a part of that discussion and generally, I think the exposure for under-21 players to this type of fixture is a good thing.

"Any game can that give a player a competitive environment is a bonus. I don't think there are any negatives.

"People who criticise will probably ask how you get more competitive games for young players so if you're looking at longevity of systems to bring players into the professional game, there has to be a way to bring youngsters through.

"There have been lots of different suggestions, including letting Premier League reserve teams playing in the Football League in the same way they do in Spain.

"Whatever the solution is, you need to provide competitive games for these young players to give them an opportunity, to see them in that stadium environment.

"As things are, a lot of under-21 matches are played away from first-team grounds, meaning the players get very little exposure to any kind of atmosphere. Entrance to this competition can give them that."

The announcement came hot on the heels of controversial proposals to reduce to 20 teams the number of participants in each Football League division with an additional fifth tier added from 2019-2020.

A statement from the Football League read: "EFL clubs have agreed at their 2016 summer conference to pilot a new format for the EFL Trophy as part of their ongoing commitment to creating more and better home-grown players.

"The one-season trial for season 2016-17 will include 64 teams made up of EFL League One and Two clubs, plus an additional 16 category one Premier League academy/under-21 sides.

"Central to the competition will be the introduction of a new group stage format with 16 regional groups of four teams. The top two teams will progress to the knockout stages of the competition with the final staged at Wembley Stadium in April 2017."