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    page originally posted : Sat, 8 Feb 20
    Young Guns

    Ryan Barrett (Newcastle United)
    Ryan will certainly be hoping that the torrid time he has had in the last couple of seasons will not be repeated in the future, as he continues to develop his game and tries to forge a bright career with Newcastle. Starting out by playing regularly for the U-18 team last season he sustained a serious injury after just a few games. It required him to spend many months rehabilitating and returned to playing with just a few games left. Even then, he had to leave the field injured in his return game. It was his second year as a scholar with the club but fortunately he had made his quality evident to the coaching staff and they decided to retain his services, signing him on to a fulltime professional contract. Moving on to play for the club’s U-23 team this season, he was similarly forced onto the sidelines soon after its start with another injury. Though it was again one that rendered him unavailable for many weeks, the good news is, it was not as lengthy as the previous one, he has recovered and is back to playing again. It does seem to give an insight into his character, he must be both dedicated and determined to have overcome these setbacks, qualities that will serve him well as he continues toward his goal of forging a successful career. The skill set he possesses is obviously one that the management team at Newcastle covets, as well as one that has impressed Wales coaches over the years. He has represented the nation as a schoolboy and as an U-17 international player. A progression that will hopefully reach a status of playing regular first team football would quite possibly see him considered as a candidate for further national recognition and maybe an opportunity to add to the caps already collected.

    Daniel Griffiths (Cardiff City – on loan at Penybont)
    As a youngster, Dan was affiliated with Liverpool and signed on as a scholar with them at the end of his days as a schoolboy. Such was the wealth and amount of youth talent available at the club, particularly so in the striker role that he operates in, Dan experienced limited opportunities as he started his life in fulltime football surroundings. Cardiff, aware of his talent and the scenario at Anfield, successfully negotiated a transfer toward the end of his first year as a scholar. Continuing last season, he played in almost all of the Bluebird’s U-18 team games and further enhanced his reputation, being a prolific goal scorer, at a rate approaching one per game. This, of course prompted management to secure his services with a professional contract. As a means of expanding his experience, he has this season been loaned to Welsh Premier League club Penybont and has thrived quite well in these new surroundings. Playing first team football is of course a major step in the career of a young player. Dan seems to have had reasonable success so far, the challenge ahead will be to maintain the progress when pitted against increasingly accomplished opponents. Having been credited with having instinctive goal scoring abilities, similar to those possessed by past players who performed at very high levels, he can in time become a possible first team candidate for Cardiff. It will of course take a lot of hard work and an ability to continually adapt his game to do so. Hopefully he will be successful, fans of both club and country will share a delight if it becomes so. In the near term, Dan will be a member of the Wales U-19 squad that will play in the elite phase round of that age group championships next month. This continues his association with Wales teams from his days as a schoolboy, then on to the U-17’s and also the U-19’s last season.

    Dominic Jeffries (Newport County – on loan at Salisbury)
    After making his first team debut in an early season EFL Trophy match, Dom continued to be selected for the team featuring in that competition as it has successfully negotiated a passage to its latter stages. He was not in the squad for the recent game as he has joined Salisbury on a work experience loan which should enhance his experience by playing regular first team football. There can be no doubt that Dom has impressed the manager with his performances as he has been awarded a long term professional contract as a result. Added evidence, is that he also played in the FA Cup first round match as well as being on the bench for a handful of league games, a belief that he is a candidate for tougher competition if required. As part of the first team squad, he will be aiming to get regular first team playing time next season. If that occurs, he will most certainly be added to the candidates to become members of next season’s Wales U-19 squad for which he will be eligible.

    Joe Low (Bristol City – on loan at Yate Town)

    Joe has not only played regularly for the Bristol City U-18 team over the past two seasons but has also managed quite a few appearances for the U-23 team as well. Now in his second season as a scholar with the club, he has been assisting the Yate Town team where he has been on loan since just before the end of 2019. This has given him the experience of playing some games of first team football and he has impressed fans of the Southern League Premier side with his defensive abilities. He also gained an amount of notoriety when scoring a long range goal for the team in a recent match. As his time in youth football comes to an end it seems most likely that he will be retained by Bristol City to become part of their U-23 squad next season. In the meantime, Joe will possibly be involved in matches played by the Wales U-19 team as they contest for a place in the summer finals for that age group when the elite round of the competition takes place in late March. Having previously played for Wales at U-17 level, this season Joe was selected for the U-19 squad that successfully negotiated progress in the preliminary group matches. With the incumbent central defensive members providing a strong base for the team, he remained on the bench for the three matches but was obviously a valued member of the squad. He will also be one that will remain eligible for that age group next season and so there will almost certainly be playing time for him at some point. Collecting Welsh caps is of course a family tradition as his father also represented Wales at U-21 level some twenty or so years ago.

    - John Jones.

    [photo embedded from FAW Cymru ]
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    Posted: Saturday 8th February 2020
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