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    YOUNG GUNS BLOG UPDATE


    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Ashley Baker (Sheffield Wednesday)
    Earning a professional contract with Cardiff City in the summer of 2015 after progressing through their youth system, Ashley then played regularly in the U-23 team until a mutual understanding to part ways happened in early 2017 as the club restructured their development programme. An offer to continue his career at Wednesday came about after having impressed their coaching staff. Their judgement was proved correct as his performances in the U-23 side at Hillsborough eventually resulted in participation in the first team match squads. Numerous occasions on the bench for league and FA Cup games culminated in his debut when starting the final game of last season. A continuation in that manner has seen him being utilized in a wing back role for the first team this season. In the past he has competently occupied various defensive roles and this versatility is something The Owls may find advantageous in the future. Playing Championship football makes him a strong candidate for inclusion in the upcoming Wales U-21 squad, adding to what is already a list of candidates vying for what will be a limited number of spots on the roster. Not only is the depth and potential strength of the senior squad seemingly improving at present, similar circumstances at U-21 level will be very good for Welsh football if it is sustained.

    Isaac Christie-Davies (Liverpool)
    Isaac is another player on the move after a period of long association with one club. This happened during this summer after his time of being at Chelsea from a young age came to an end. Liverpool had no hesitation in offering him a contract once they knew of his circumstances and so he is now performing in their U-23 team. His first occasion of representing a Welsh national team occurred in June this year when he accepted the offer to be part of the U-21 squad playing a couple of friendly matches in Georgia as a preparation phase to be ready when they resume UEFA qualification matches in a couple of weeks. A skillful midfield player with the fitness capacity to be involved in play in all areas of the field when necessary, he additionally has the strength to be combative in physical situations. His release by Chelsea was the result of decision making as they evaluated their needs in an extremely large squad situation. Liverpool are by no means short of numbers in their development squad and so feel he has the potential to succeed at the club. Hopefully he will flourish in his new surroundings, pleasing Wales fans if he can forge a successful enough path that includes consideration in senior team participation.

    Cian Harries (Swansea City)
    Taking over the captaincy of the club’s U-23 team with Joe Rodon moving into first team duties is indicative of the coaching staff’s opinion of his quality and leadership skills, confirming that Cian is still moving his career in a positive direction. His spectacular introduction into first team football at Coventry within weeks of completing his time as a youth team player with them, set the bar high for the future. The subsequent continual struggle during the season for the team, a move to a central defensive role, regarded to be the logical progression from the left back position he occupied in first team games, curtailed his appearances significantly after the early weeks of the season. Though it seemed to temper expectations, an array of high profile clubs continued to be aware of the potential he possessed and contemplated acquiring his services. As they hesitated, Swansea completed the deal to take him to the Liberty Stadium. A wise move by the club as they added to the promising talent in their development system and he is progressing well. Having had the pleasure of experiencing Premier League football for a lengthier period than they may have first imagined after promotion, the fans are anxious for a return to such euphoric times as soon as possible. Club officials are in likewise hopes, the benefits of being amongst the elite are obvious. They will however realize that sustainable membership can only be achieved by building a competitive squad. Not only must purchasing power be used wisely, but also a development programme delivering capable players must be the balance used for producing a competent squad. Cian has an opportunity to contribute in making the effort toward realizing the ambition. Along with the other youngsters at the club, they will have witnessed the quality of play they must exhibit to achieve such a standard and will hopefully be fully focused in their determination to hone their game to that level.

    Regan Poole (Manchester United)
    It is extremely difficult to make any kind of prediction as to how this season will unfold regarding Regan’s playing assignments. Installed as captain of the club’s U-23 team, he obviously has the confidence of the coaching staff to lead the team competently. Whether the preference is for him to remain in developmental game situations or to gain further first team experience through a suitable loan arrangement is an unknown quantity at present. With the loan window still some days away from closing, it is a possibility. Having made an eye-catching entrance into League football with his displays for Newport and then his subsequent transfer to join the ranks at Old Trafford a season later, projections into the future included an expectation for him to grace the field as a Wales senior team representative. Having celebrated his 20th birthday just a few weeks ago, time is very much on his side for him to reach this goal. For now, rather than conjecture in various ways, I will leave it at that. Hopefully as we move forward over the weeks and months ahead, his name will appear again in my weekly offerings and I can reference pleasingly about his continuing progress towards the highest levels of the game.

    James Waite (Cardiff City)
    James recently made his first team debut for his local club as they prepared for the season. It speaks highly of the regard the management team must have for him. Although it was a pre-season game, Cardiff were preparing for their new challenge in the Premier League and so any player evaluated had to be with that lofty goal in mind. Having progressed through the youth and U-23 teams at the club, it is quite a recognition of his talent that he is now on the fringe of the team that will be in the strongest league competition possible. The club have generated a good reputation for the development of notable players through their youth system and James would certainly enjoy adding his name to the list. Hopefully, he can continue to impress enough to warrant some first team game time in a competitive match. A display of his skills to show he can be a productive member of the squad would not only delight coaches but also the fans if they could see one of their own succeed.

    [photo embedded from FAW Cymru]

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