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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Oliver Cooper and Tom Price (Swansea City)
    After a successful youth career at the club, when they played regularly for the U-18 side last season, Oliver and Tom are now both full time professionals with Swansea. Now they are part of the U-23 squad and have had some amount of playing time for the team this season. It will have been an encouraging sign for them to have witnessed quite a focus on young players being promoted into the first team starting eleven at the club and will feel that there may be an opportunity for them in time. Of course they are far from being alone in having such hopes and so it will take notable performances on a consistent basis so an occurrence for their elevation above present level be considered. Still, it does give a very good reason to give their utmost effort in finding ways of improving skill levels knowing that there is a possible reward for the sacrifices they may have to make to achieve those goals. Hopefully they will be able to build on the experience they are gaining at present and eventually develop into regular performers for the U-23s. Doing so would certainly increase the prospect of a loan assignment in the Football League and another important means of building up first team experience, if first team selection at the club was not imminent. 

    Ryan Leak (Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan at FC Jumilla)
    As are a number of other Wolves development players, Ryan is presently in Spain as he assists FC Jumilla in the second division of football in that country. Now in his third season as a full time professional with Wolves, he has played many times for their U-23 team, though he did also go out on loan with TNS in the WPL during the first half of last season. He impressed many with his performances across the border, returning to Molineux in January and captaining the U-23 team in that latter part of 2017/18. Ryan has been involved with Wolves since his days as a young schoolboy, progressing through their various teams, culminating in being an important part of the youth team during his time as a scholar and gaining the offer of a full time status. Obviously very valued by Wolves over the years, he did have an amount of involvement in first team affairs in pre-season preparations in the summer of 2017. The first team at the club now competes in the Premier League, early season form suggesting membership in the promised land for all clubs will last beyond this present first season. With a financial situation that can be utilized to purchase high value proven players also in place as a possible path, it is difficult to predict the future for young players at the club. A large development squad with a potential for numerous new graduates joining it at the end of each season also adds pressure on contract decisions. It is not unreasonable to suggest that Ryan can maintain enough continuous improvement to remain at the club and push towards consideration for the first team, he seems to be doing well this season and gaining valuable experience from it. He does seem capable of forging a career at a good level of football if it is where his commitment lies, we wish him well in his endeavours and congratulate him ahead of time if he is successful.

    Alex Penny (Hamilton Academicals)
    Having spent a couple of seasons playing in non-league football after his time as a youth player at Hull City, Alex managed a return to Football League play when Peterborough signed him from Nuneaton in the summer of 2017. Though he made a reasonable amount of appearances, in particular during the first half of the season with them, Peterborough made the decision not to extend his contract beyond the end of it. Scottish Premiership side Hamilton quickly snapped him up when he became available and he seems to be settling in well with them this season. It has been a mixture of starting, substitute and bench appearances as he has been a regular member of the first team squad for most games. He has done well to return to a full time football career, it does happen on occasion, but the vast majority of those who leave league clubs at the end of their youth eligibility days never play at a level above non-league for the remainder of their careers. Alex has obviously worked on his game over the last few years in order to have been afforded these recent opportunities and will be determined to remain at a full time level for as long as possible. As for any professional footballer, it will not be easy. Hopefully the effort he puts into the attempt will be rewarded accordingly.

    Ryan Sears (Shrewsbury Town)
    Ryan is another player familiar to those who watch WPL matches as he was loaned out to home town club Newtown for the first half of last season, gaining a generous amount of praise for the performances he generated. Obviously, he gained benefit from it, as this season he made his Football league debut for Shrewsbury as well as playing in a Checkatrade Trophy match. Added to this are a couple of appearances on the bench for the first team. These are not of course statistics consistent for a regular member of the first team squad but does show that Ryan is pushing ever closer in his attempt at being one. This is his second season as a full time professional at the club having graduated through their youth system and points to him making a good amount of progress through the years. A continuation in such a manner will surely gain him further first team playing time sooner rather than later.

    Jamie Veale (Cardiff City)
    Now in his fourth season as a member of the Bluebirds U-23 squad, Jamie has been a regular member of the starting team throughout that time and has in fact captained the side on many occasions. Cardiff decided to carry out a major restructure of their development team during the past couple of seasons as they attempted to construct a team where there were potential candidates that could supplement the first team squad. A great many of those who played with Jamie in the U-23s have been allowed to move on as a consequence. Though Jamie has not had any involvement with the first team to this point, those who make the important decisions about the playing staff at the club must have a high regard for Jamies abilities and the qualities he is capable of contributing, for them to have retained his services through such a major change. One day we may see him make that step into the first team environment. As fans we will be delighted for him if or when it happens.

    [photo embedded from
    David Rawcliffe/Propaganda ]

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    Posted: Wednesday 7th November 2018
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