Sunderland will host the Premier League side’s under-21 side in a Papa John’s Trophy clash on October 13 – much to the ire of Black Cats’ boss Lee Johnson
Sunderland boss Lee Johnson says the club are prepared to suffer financially in order to get around EFL rules.
It comes at a time when the League One club will still be without a clutch of players who are away on international duty.
EFL rules state that league clubs must field at least four ‘qualifying outfielders’ in each game of the competition to preserve its integrity.
‘Qualifying outfielders’ are defined as: players who started the previous first team game or that will start the next first-team game; players that have made at least 40 first-team career appearances; players on loan from Premier League clubs; players that are among the ten highest first-team appearance-makers this season.
Clubs who do not play by the rules risk a £5,000 fine being handed down.
Johnson, who famously sealed an EFL Cup quarter-final win over the Red Devils in 2017, said: “It’s something we can do without, and we’d probably have to take the hit (of a fine) and play young players against Man United because we will have a lot of players away, depending on who is called up on international duty.
“It’s a bit of a perfect storm in terms of that.
“I see it as a really good opportunity for some of the under-23s who have been performing quite well.
“You know the rules, you get fined if you don’t play four (qualifying players) – which is ridiculous, I think.
” Manchester United and the Premier League fund the competition and therefore they tend to get preferential treatment, which is crazy because we are the ones with all the games.
“They (United) have demanded that it be played on Wednesday the 13th, so we may potentially have to pay the fine which doesn’t seem fair to me.”
Sunderland will have six players absent for the clash including Northern Ireland trio Corry Evans, Tom Flanagan and Carl Winchester.
Tonight will see Johnson’s side play their first game in this year’s group stage, away at Lincoln. They then have a blank Saturday before the Man United clash.