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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 7 Oct 22 : 08:15 :  refresh for updates

    To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page

    Will Andiyapan (Tottenham Hotspur) born 2005, Defender.
    Joining Spurs as a schoolboy after having previously been associated with the Arsenal academy, Will is now in his second season as a scholar with the club. Last season he played in about half of the U-18 team’s games and this season he has been a regular choice and has played in all of their matches so far. Predominantly a central defender, he is versatile enough to also operate successfully in the wide defensive positions and did in fact appear at left back for the club’s U-21 side in a Papa John’s Trophy game. It will be his aim to play in as many U-21 matches as possible as the season progresses as he attempts to convince the coaching staff to extend his stay at the club by offering him a professional contract for next season. Will first played for Wales as an U-15 selection and has continued to do so at U-16 and U-17 levels. He will almost certainly be involved with the U-18’s when they convene later in the season.

    Omari Benjamin (Arsenal) born 2005, Forward.
    A first year scholar with the Gunners this season, Omari started playing for their U-18 team in rather spectacular fashion when scoring a hattrick in one of their early games, additional attention gained by virtue of it being against their nearby rivals Spurs. If he can continue his scoring exploits for the U-18’s, it will most likely create an opportunity to play in the U-21 team in a time frame of being sooner rather than later and improve his chances of eventually getting a professional contract if he succeeds at that development level. Omari made his initial debut with Wales when he played in an U-16 development tournament and then played for the U-17’s last season. He will be a strong candidate for U-18 involvement this season.

    Scott Godden (Leeds United) born 2005, Defender.
    After previously being a schoolboy associate at the club for some years, Scott began his time as a scholar with Leeds at the start of last season, regularly playing for the U-18 team and appearing in around two thirds of their games. This season he continues to be in the side and will likely play in an even bigger proportion of their games. Initially selected as a left back in the team, the coaches also used him in a central defender at times and having gained some good praise for recent displays, it does seem that it is the position he will remain in at present. Scott has been involved with Wales teams since his schoolboy days, playing in the Cymru Cup games for his age group in 2019 and then representing the nation at levels up to his recent inclusion in the U-19 squad that competed in the European Qualification group games.

    Luke Harris (Fulham) born 2005, Midfielder.
    Many Wales fans will have been unfamiliar with Luke prior to him being named in the recent senior squad, most of the exceptions being those who keep appraised with news through this site. Neil has of course chronicled his exploits and even gave us a hint that he would get senior team recognition when it happened. Signing with Fulham’s academy in the summer of 2019 as regulations prevented the club from doing so any sooner, Luke has since shone brightly with the Cottagers, performing at an accelerated rate in their development teams. He initially played for the U-18 team in the 2020/21 season when still on schoolboy terms, appearing regularly and doing so in more than half of their games. Joining the club as a scholar at the start of last season, he had accumulated more time playing for the U-23 side rather than the U-18 one by its conclusion. Although he must have qualities that allow him to play against older opponents, the statistic that stands out above others is his goal scoring rate, one that has to be categorized as phenomenal for a midfield player, even one that is probably more attack minded than most. I’m sure that you will all know that he is firmly in the Fulham first team squad this season and has made his debut for the team in the Carabao Cup. He has remained on the bench in league matches so far and I’m sure management are waiting for an appropriate occasion to introduce him to a level of competition that far exceeds what he has experienced. Luke has been involved with all Wales intermediate teams excepting the U-21’s which he has seemingly bypassed to become a senior squad member, hopefully, in time, he can contribute at a good goal scoring rate in the national side.

    Ben Lloyd (Swansea City) born 2005, Midfielder.
    A Swansea fan as a child, it was somewhat of a dream come true and a delight for his family when Ben joined the club’s academy as a twelve year old. It has turned out to be a wise choice by the coaching staff with him becoming one of their star recruits. In his first weeks as a scholar, he made a substitute appearance for the first team in a pre-season match before the start of last season and making it even more memorable by scoring. He has been on the bench for a competitive first team game this season but was not used in their Carabao Cup tie. Considered very much a member of the extended first team squad, he will I’m sure be pushing as hard as possible to get to wear that first team shirt again. In the meantime, he will be accumulating game time for the U-21 team and will now only be selected for the U-18 team in special circumstances before his eligibility comes to an end later this season. Ben has been involved with Wales teams throughout his time as a schoolboy, excepting of course when the pandemic caused the suspension of youth football. This season he is eligible for the U-18’s but was chosen as a member of the U-19 squad and played in their recent matches.

    James Pradic (Preston North End) born 2005, Goalkeeper.
    After an association with Charlton Athletic and a very brief one with Gillingham in his schoolboy days, Preston’s coaching staff were impressed enough when he trialed with them to offer him a scholar contract. Now in his second season with the club, James has repaid the faith placed in him by performing to a high standard in their development teams and given quite an amount of credit for helping the U-19’s becoming champions of their division last season. His aim will be to continue his adeptness in goalkeeping skills and convince the club’s management team that he is worthy of them retaining his services beyond this season and securing a professional contract with the Lilywhites. James started his Wales career at U-16 level and then played for the U-17’s last season. He will certainly want to add to his cap collection when the U-18’s play later in the season.

    Another group of young players that allows us fans to share an optimistic view as we deliberate continued success for the Wales senior team. Undoubtedly, they are still in the early stages of their development and will need to negotiate some stern challenges to progress in a manner that could result in senior international recognition. Not only will they need to hone the considerable skills they already possess to ever improving standards but will also need to exhibit a great deal of dedication and determination in order to do so. For the moment, it is the potential that they are on such a path that excites us, hopefully we can witness its fruition in the time that lies ahead.

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Friday 7th October 2022
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