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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Joe Adams (Bury)

    A new name added to the list of Welsh qualified players this season, Joe gained his first international cap when playing for the Wales U-17 team in the friendly matches against the Scots and then added to this when part of the squad competing in the European qualification tournament. He is a first year member of the youth team at Gigg Lane and helped them be victorious in their recent FA Youth Cup first round match. Information is not easy to find with regard to play at Youth Alliance League level and so cannot add more than this.

    Ryan Astley, Michael Ellery, Josh Hosie, Rhys Hughes and Edward Jones (Everton)
    A considerable list of names here, all affiliated with the Goodison Park club but none as yet in the scholar status there, presumably, all are at present still school attendees having been born in the later months of 2001. All were in the Wales schoolboy international preparation camps although Rhys and Edward were not involved in the Victory shield matches. All have been capped at U-17 level this season and Ryan captained that side. Whether there will be invitations to continue their link at scholar level has probably not been fully considered at this time, but Ryan has already appeared on the bench for the U-18 team.

    Sam Bowen, Issak Davies and Keenan Patten (Cardiff City)
    Three youngsters who have been regularly used for the Cardiff U-18 team this season. The side has been moderately successful up to this point, a good statistic in view that it is probably of a younger average age when compared to most if not all opponents it has competed against. All three have also represented Wales at U-17 level in recent weeks, as they did during last seasons schoolboy internationals. Sam and Keenan both accepted the offer of scholar terms in the summer, to continue their affiliation with the club. Issak, though having been an ever present in the team, excepting his time away on international duty, is still an affiliated schoolboy, his birthdate being in September 2001 making him ineligible to move on to a full time football status until next year.

    Luke Burton (Shrewsbury Town)
    Though brother Callum had been an England goalkeeper at schoolboy and youth level, Luke decided to accept a Welsh invitation to join the schoolboy setup and protected the net for them in last years Victory Shield competition. He is another who has not yet reached the age where he can move on to a full time career in football and there has been interest from clubs who would strike a deal with Shrewsbury in order to get his signature when that time comes. In the meantime, he carried on his association with Wales, playing for the U-17 team this season.

    Lewis Clutton (Bristol Rovers)
    Lewis had to withdraw through injury after being selected for both the friendly and competitive Wales U-17 squads this season. Having been capped as a schoolboy last season, it was disappointing for him not to be able to add to the collection as he has been playing regularly for the Rovers U-18 team when available.

    This has been an attempt to provide some names that might become associated with news concerning the Wales senior team at some point in the future. Even if this proves to be so, there will be a gap of considerable time between now and such a scenario being factual. The young boys mentioned here are either at the starting point, or yet to reach it, of life where a career as a professional footballer is a possibility for them. Undoubtedly talented, to have been in the spotlight up to this juncture, there are still a plethora of mental and physical challenges that have to be successfully negotiated just to reach the point of earning a contract offer. Even an assumption that there would be a positive result in that quest does not necessarily mean an involvement in international matches. The pathway is unfortunately littered with those who fall by the wayside before the very few of those who started such a journey reach its desired conclusion. It is certainly my wish that every one of those mentioned each week has a story with a happy ending, my feeling is that many others who read this material join me in having such sentiments. All we can do is hope that the boys realize that every bit of determination and dedication that they can apply to their efforts, as well as the correct encouragement, guidance and advice from those around them is going to be needed.

    It has not been the best of days to be an ardent follower of Welsh football lately with the U-19s defeated in their first 2 matches, thus making qualification for further participation in European competition in their age group unattainable. With very little news available to give an assessment, maybe the team did not get what they deserved in their matches, adversities that are not uncommon in football, the only benefit coming if the experience can be used in a positive manner during future events. The U-21s were trounced, the only word one can use as a description for a 4-0 home defeat. Having by this time been able to watch a recording and viewed large parts of the game, I am going to suggest that it was not as bad as the result seems to indicate. Yes, beaten by a better team performance by some margin, it was in some way the reverse of the only other match I have been able to watch this group of young men play. The win in Switzerland was achieved by taking advantage of some of the opportunities presented and thwarting good opponents with timely defending. Hopefully, a display, disappointing for a large attendance that gathered to cheer what many hope will be future senior international players on view, can be atoned in the next match at the same venue. It will be far from easy to make amends, as another very strong team will be a challenging opponent to overcome. There is little doubt that the squad is composed of talented players, it will be their chance to show that they can combine individual assets into a formidable team effort as has been done in their previous victories.

    I cannot complete this article without making mention of the young guns who joined the fold of those capped as senior Wales international players. An anticipation of witnessing Ethan Ampadu, David Brooks and Ben Woodburn integrated into the team has been on the minds of many fans lately and it occurred with the triple substitution during the France game. As Ben had done previously, Ethan and David showed glimpses of what a valuable contribution to the overall strength of the side they can provide. Congratulations to them and hopefully they will add further proof of their ability to successfully compete as senior internationals when gaining more valuable experience in the game against Panama. 

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    Posted: Tuesday 14th November 2017
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