This week I will start with a mention about the recent matches the Wales U-19 team played against Iceland. I had hoped that I would have been able to provide a report about at least one, if not both, of these games as I had planned to attend them. Unfortunately, it did not materialize in the way I had envisioned and consequently I was still a long distance from the vicinity of Rhyl when they occurred. As was the case for most and possibly all of you, all that I saw was the final results and have been unable to locate a report on the matches. I think that we can assume that Iceland fielded a talented team as the standard of their football capability has progressed enormously in recent times. There will be another stern test when Switzerland provide the opposing set of players early in October and hopefully give our boys the experience to have a successful campaign when they play in their European U-19 qualification tournament in November. I will not be in a position to be able to attend those next Rhyl games either, but if anyone does and is willing to provide me their opinion of what they witnessed, I would be extremely grateful to be in receipt of it. Should anyone wish to communicate with me, I am sure Neil would be more than willing to supply the details of how to get in touch with me. This also applies to any news that may be forthcoming about the U-17 games at Llanelli.
Chris Mepham (Brentford) As I have mentioned at the start of the summer, Chris was an unknown quantity to me when his name appeared as a call up for the Toulon tournament. His impressive displays in the matches I saw at that time, further confirmed in the U-21 match against Switzerland that I watched gave me a feeling that he is already a good addition to that age group of players. Added to this is the belief that he has quite some amount of upside potential that could well see him develop into a formidable central defender. This seems to confirm the view of the Griffin Park coaching staff who recently raised his status to become a fulltime member of the first team squad and he was in fact an unused sub in their most recent match. For now, it will be a case of gaining experience at each opportunity that is presented to him at club level and also during his involvement with the WalesU-21 team. I really do think he is someone who needs to be considered as a one to watch candidate over future months and seasons.
Luke Pilling (Tranmere Rovers) Luke has staked his claim as the first choice U-21 team keeper in somewhat spectacular fashion with some stunning saves, particularly during the Toulon tournament. Though out of the umbrella of what is deemed the professional football domain, his club do retain a fulltime status as they strive to regain the Football League membership of former times. At club level, Luke is having to bide his time, as he is still the back up to the teamís incumbent between the sticks. This would suggest that he has some parts of his game that need improvement and from what I have seen, would tend to largely agree with that sentiment. It does not however detract from what he has shown to be excellent capability and much of what he needs to learn will I am sure come with the gathering of experience. In my opinion, he has important tools of the trade in terms of instinct and agility in abundance and I am sure that he is working hard to add those other needed qualities to his game which will see him progress from the good rating of the present into the very good and possibly even beyond that in the future. He deserves he praise already gathered and the very best of wishes in his endeavor for even greater things to come.
I am sorry that it is another short version, as I have found only very limited time to scribe my opinions lately. It will hopefully be back to near normality in the next couple of days and in the ongoing weeks and so then I can better attempt to fulfill my intentions, providing you with informative dialogue about the young men that we will be eager to see contributing to a successful Wales senior football team.¬†