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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Euro 2016 will undoubtedly live fondly and long in the memories of every Wales fan but there is also a longing for such occasions to become a frequent occurrence. Qualification for a World Cup finals is certainly the holy grail for many fans, but for the present a repeat trip to another Euro finals would certainly be very acceptable. A talented squad containing a blend of both highly experienced and young players will be tasked to have The Red Wall on alert to be travelling to various venues next summer.

    Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea)
    Iím sure that Ethan is somewhat disappointed not to have amassed more first team minutes than has occurred this season. Having only celebrated his 18th birthday a couple of months after the start of this season, time is certainly on his side and he will almost certainly change such statistics sooner rather than later. The quality of the talent he possesses has already been on display when representing the Wales senior side, done in such fashion that shows an ability to be influential in matches.

    David Brooks (Bournemouth)

    David has impressed many with the way he has adapted to the demands of the Premier League after his move to the south coast club in the summer. An injury sidelined him for a few games recently, but Wales fans as well as those who attend the Vitality Stadium will have been pleased to see him not only return to action but also continue in similar form to that exhibited over the previous months.

    Daniel James and Joe Rodon (Swansea City)
    Having shown glimpses of his capability in the FA Cup games last season, Daniel has gone on to establish himself as an important first team player with the Swans this season. Joe, given his first team debut at the start of the season, has also firmly grasped that opportunity and become a regular selection for the team. Injury has kept him on the sidelines for the last couple of months, but he is now nearing a return to full fitness and will, I am sure, be anxious to resume his position in the heart of the defence as soon as possible. The form these two young men have exhibited during the season has seen their services coveted by other clubs and a move during the summer transfer window may occur. Hopefully, if such a scenario develops, Swansea can benefit from the transfer funds generated in their quest to regain a Premier League status. What is probably even more important for such success, is the continuation of the development of young players to a standard that is beneficial for the first team.

    Rabbi Matondo (FC Shalke 04)
    His January move to the Bundesliga club was one that caught just about everyone by surprise. He became a much more familiar name with his inclusion in the Wales senior squad and his subsequent debut for the team in the match against Albania. Although he had made rapid progress in his time at Manchester City, it was a sizeable sum that was exchanged between the clubs to acquire his services. It will take a bit of time as he adapts to the demands of the Bundesliga, but with its reputation of being a highly technical league, it may well be to Rabbiís advantage. If he can add further to his game in this respect, to go with the other attributes he has in abundance, a retrospective view on the fee paid for him may well be regarded as a bargain.

    Chris Mepham (Bournemouth)
    Bournemouth were successful in persuading Brentford to part with Chris in the January transfer window, after initially being rebuffed prior to the start of the season. In doing so, he of course joined Wales team mate David and does seem to be paralleling his career at the club. Although he has only played a few games, his performances have been of such quality that he is also very quickly becoming a fan favourite with the Cherries followers.

    Tyler Roberts (Leeds United)
    It has been somewhat of a mixed season for Tyler with sporadic appearances for the first team as well as time on the bench and an absence from the matchday squad on occasions. He has received both noteworthy praise and strong criticism for his performances. With Leeds fans desperate for a return to the Premier League, there is a good possibility of success this season and finally have a positive end to the quest. In view of such expectations, it may well be that the critique of some supporters may be far harsher than deserved.

    Matthew Smith (Manchester City Ė on loan at FC Twente)
    There can be little doubt that it has been a season beneficial in enhancing Mattís career path. The experience gained from regular first team football involvement in the second tier of Dutch football will prove to be invaluable. This coupled with performances that have proven to be a big reason in helping the Twente team to the top of the league and seemingly well on the way to regaining a place in the Eredivisie have certainly enhanced his reputation. It will be of much interest as to the decision Manchester City make about him next season. Should they be contemplating another loan assignment for him, there will surely be a long list of interested clubs at quite high levels of football.

    Harry Wilson and Ben Woodburn (Liverpool Ė Harry on loan at Derby County)
    2018 was the year of his 21st birthday, but it was not the only reason for celebrations as Harry scored with regularity, firstly for Hull and then Derby. Added to this were more national senior team caps to go with the one he was awarded some years previously and as well as providing good overall contributions, goals were also scored on those occasions. For Ben it was somewhat of an opposite, as a loan period at Sheffield United was mainly an unproductive one. Everyone closely connected with Ben are very confident that a return to better times are ahead and that the experience is one that could well be beneficial to his career. Both are expected to become increasingly important players for Wales as the years progress.

    Ten players, already considered to be potentially important contributors to the fortunes of the Welsh senior team in the near term and of an age that expectations are, that they can be very influential in determining the success of the team for many seasons. For half of them, their qualification as young guns, comes to an end at the completion of this season. Even so, they are still very much on the upward slope in terms of reaching a peak in their careers. Iím sure that many nations are quite envious of Wales being able to have this array of talent available to call upon. Hopefully, they will be able to add to their experience in international football by competing in the Euro 2020 finals. It will not be an easy task to qualify, the team will have to produce performances that at the least, satisfy what is expected of them, to be successful. A good start is certainly a criterion that could be very helpful and so it will not be long before we know if that can be achieved.

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    Posted: Wednesday 13th March 2019
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