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        Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 25 Sep 20 : 07:38 refresh for updates [ scroll down to post your comments ]

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

    Mitchell Clark (Leicester City), born 1999, defender
    With European commitments adding to an already congested schedule, Leicester are most probably still evaluating their options along with assessing what their squad needs may be. What lies ahead for Mitch over the coming weeks and months is therefore unclear at present. There was an enquiry from Port Vale to acquire his services on loan prior to the start of the season, but at that time the Foxes were not prepared to make such a decision, therefore the interest was dropped. Having proven himself a very adept performer at League 2 level in two previous loan spells, it was not surprising that the club had hopes of having him spend another period with them. It is possibly unlikely that Mitch will be involved with the Leicester first team in the short term and so a loan that would present him with the opportunity to play Championship football would be an ideal choice, success at that level would certainly be a progressive step in his career. It is something that I believe is well within his ability. Already a viable candidate for the Wales U-21 squad, regular first team football would certainly boost his profile. I am sure he would be pleased to add caps to the many he has already collected in the various younger age group levels.

    Liam Cullen (Swansea City), born 1999, forward
    Liam became regularly included in the Swansea first team matchday squad during the second half of last season, a trend that continues in the early games of the present season. Although it has not yet translated into very much significant playing time for him, it obviously shows that the management team have a good deal of confidence that he can contribute if required. His involvement with the first team is well deserved after excelling at U-23 level. As he has progressed through the various age groups, Liam has continually provided evidence of his ability to be a prolific goal scorer and this will be the facet of his game that will be expected to be repeated as he gains experience of facing opponents at first team level. Undoubtedly, his aim is to achieve a regular starting role in the side and I am sure he is diligently honing his skills to make that outcome a reality. Doing so, would not only be beneficial for his career, but could also be an important key in propelling the Swansea team into strong contention for a return into the Premier League. Liam is a current member of the Wales U-21 squad and has been so for the past couple of seasons. Another of his ambitions is to graduate from that present status and move on to the senior squad. Success at club level would help promote his candidacy for such a goal.

    Mark Harris (Cardiff City), born 1998, forward
    Mark made his first team debut for Cardiff in the 2016/17 season and added another couple of appearances at that time. Unfortunately, he has not been able to accumulate any further time on the field in competitive games for the first team in the intervening period. He has obviously been a candidate to do so, as can be ascertained by the club's policy of retaining his services. He has gained a good amount of first team experience at both League 2 and National League levels when loaned out to Newport County, Port Vale and Wrexham over the last couple of seasons. In his time at youth and U-23 football, Mark has managed to be a fairly consistent goal scorer in addition to the other qualities he often gains praise for in his forward position. Of course, when playing against better quality opposition, the difficulty of the task increases. If he can find a means of doing so at first team level, then further opportunities will result. Mark will again be on duty for the Wales U-21 team next month and has been a member of the squad for a number of seasons.

    Niall Huggins (Leeds United), born 2000, forward
    I have listed Niall as a forward although it does seem that Leeds have been using him as a wingback in their two U-23 games this season. In previous seasons it is as a forward that he has been utilized, more specifically as a winger, in particular successfully so as can be defined from his time as a second year scholar when he was the top goal scorer for the U-18 team. An impressive ratio of a goal every other game giving him a tally of 12 for the season. Obviously, the coaching staff have sufficient confidence in his defensive ability when operating as a wingback and so one can suggest that he is versatile. Leeds fans who have watched the video of his assist for a goal in their latest U-23 match will certainly have been impressed with his exceptional control of a long pass in the developing play. This adds to positive comments from some of those who watched him play for the team last season. With the club now back in the Premier League, the quality requirement to be included in the first team squad has been raised significantly, but Niall is certainly on a path that could lead to such a conclusion. He was also involved with the Wales U-21 team that played a couple of friendly matches at the end of the 2018/19 season and I'm sure he will want to experience that honour again. There is a large group of talented players available for selection, so it will not be easily achievable. A continuation of performances that catch the eye will certainly return his name to greater prominence in the list of those strong contenders.

    Ryan Stirk (Birmingham City), born 2000, midfielder
    Ryan has not yet made a first team appearance for Birmingham, but a half dozen bench assignments when the Championship resumed its season during the summer give an indication that his debut may not be too far away. Those who have coached and watched him play over the years have expressed a belief that he is more than capable of succeeding at first team level. He started playing for the Blues U-18 team at a much younger age than most and was then challenged with performing for the U-23 team whilst still eligible for the youth team. He is back with the U-23 team at the moment and has played in their 2 games since the season started, but hopefully he will be given another opportunity to get involved with the first team before too long. Ryan has represented Wales on many occasions, playing for all the age group level teams up to the U-21's. He has been a member of that squad both last season and this season and will almost certainly be named in the squad scheduled to play their next game in a couple of weeks or so.

    page posted: Fri, 25 Sep 20 : 07:38 refresh for updates [ scroll down to post your comments ]

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ] 

    Posted: Friday 25th September 2020
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