ACCRINGTON Stanley boss John Coleman wants to make the most of the Checkatrade Trophy ahead of their opening tie in the competition.

The Reds entertain Middlesbrough Under-21s at the Wham Stadium tonight to kick off their Group B campaign.

And Coleman, whose side bowed out in the group stages last season, wants to get off to a winning start and progress into the knockout stages of a competition which has been criticised from many in the game since its revamp at the start of last season.

Coleman said: "I like the competition, it is much maligned but it is a realistic chance of getting to Wembley.

"It is a chance for players to put themselves in the shop window to try and force their way into the starting XI for league games.

"It gives us the chance to win another game and that breeds confidence."

The Reds and Boro are joined by League One pair Wigan Athletic and Blackpool in their group with the Latics currently top of the table on two points after winning a penalty shoot out against the Seasiders following a 1-1 draw.

Boro's Under-23 side are currently top of the Premier League 2 Division 2 having won all five of the matches so far, including a 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park last week.

And Coleman is well aware of the threat the Teessiders will pose having watched that game.

"We know the type of game we play. We have to be focussed on our plan to beat them.

"We will be approaching the game to win the game. We watched them against Blackburn last week so we know how they play and what so we know what they are about."

Coleman is set to make changes to his side following the 2-1 weekend win over Chesterfield with Checkatrade Trophy rules more relaxed this year on the number of first team players required to start a fixture.

The Reds boss added: "I will be making some changes as it is a chance to see a few players play and keep the match fitness up in a competitive game and the chance for them to twist my arm to select them for the weekend game."

The Reds will be without loanee goalkeeper Max Stryjek (hamstring) and Ben Richards Everton (shoulder) for the clash.