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To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page
Nathan Broadhead (Everton), born 1998, Forward After enjoying a stellar career in first, U-18 and then U-23 football at Everton, last season Nathan was given the opportunity to experience regular first team football when loaned out to League 1 side Burton Albion. He was able to show that he was certainly a competent performer at League 1 level but injuries kept him out of the side for various periods and probably impeded his progress somewhat, particularly as a significant portion of the season was cancelled as well. As preparations for the new season commenced, Nathan gained attention with a scoring spree in pre-season games for the Everton U-23 team and surely intended to continue as the team moved on to competitive matches. Injury however, struck again early in the second game of the season for the U-23 side which caused him to miss some games until his return to the team for their latest match. Press comments had suggested that Everton were possibly willing to entertain offers for him, but the transfer window closed and the injury probably hampered the chances of either a permanent or loan move materializing. It does seem that Nathan would gain the most benefit in developing his talent by playing regular first team football and now it will be a case of waiting for the January transfer window to arrive and see if anything in that respect develops at that time. Harry Clifton (Grimsby Town), born 1998, Midfielder Harry had a successful period on loan with Grantham during his first year as a fulltime professional with Grimsby and in the second half of the following season frequently appeared in the first team of his parent club. For the last two seasons and again in this one Harry has established himself as an important member of the Mariner's team and is now very close to amassing triple digit first team appearances. His success at Grimsby brought him to the attention of the Wales selectors who invited him to attend a training camp for U-21 players conducted in the spring of 2019 and since that time has regularly been in the squad for that age group team. He did however miss out on the most recent squad as he was unavailable due to the need for him and his Grimsby team mates to self-isolate after Covid-19 cases were confirmed at the club. His period of eligibility for U-21 international football comes to an end as this season finishes and so Harry will want to progress his game to a level where consideration for the Wales senior squad becomes a possibility in the future.
Jack Evans (Swansea City ¿ on loan at Pafos FC), born 1998, Midfielder It was an extremely pleasing situation for all Wales fans to witness Jack's return to the Swansea U-23 squad at the start of last season after having missed the whole of the previous one as he battled to overcome a serious illness. The signal of his return to good health was of course the most important fact, but it was also good to see him able to resume his career. This was further defined when he was introduced off the bench in the EFL Cup and allowed him to make his first team debut for the club. As he continued to refine his game for the Swansea U-23 team, Mansfield secured his services on loan at the end of the January transfer window. After a few appearances on the bench the season was cancelled and so unfortunately Jack did not get any first team experience during that time. This season, his former management team at the Swansea U-23's recruited his services on loan at Pafos FC where he has made a couple of appearances. There has been a recent change of management at the club, but nevertheless it will hopefully be a beneficial time for Jack to gain valuable experience and develop his game. Over the years, Jack has amassed a notable collection of caps, representing Wales at schoolboy, U-17, U-19 and U-21 levels. He was unable to possibly add to that collection in the most recent U-21 game as the travel difficulties during the virus concerns created his absence from the selected squad.
Aaron Lewis (Lincoln City ¿ on loan at Newport County), born 1998, Defender A long association with Swansea City came to an end for Aaron when the club decided not to renew his contract in the summer of 2019. A fulltime professional and a member of their U-23 squad for three seasons, he did gain some first team football experience when loaned out to Doncaster Rovers for the second half of the 2018/19 season. Although the severing of such ties must be an emotional occasion for all concerned, it was probably a pertinent time for Aaron to try and progress his career by forging a new path forward. After spending some weeks in a trial situation with Lincoln, he impressed enough for them to offer a contract and so he signed with the club. On the bench for the majority of their games, he amassed a handful of appearances last season. This season, hampered by some injury issues, he was not involved with the first team at Lincoln and so they agreed near the end of the transfer window for him to join Newport County on loan. He made an appearance on the bench for them for the first time this week and will he hoping that he can eventually secure some playing time and build on that. Through the years Aaron has been a regular feature in Wales, starting as a schoolboy and on to the various age groups up to his present eligibility as part of the U-21 squad. That will end this season and then his aim will be for the senior squad. He will of course need to perform well in a good standard of first team football as a first step in that direction.
Ryan Sears (Shrewsbury Town), born 1998, Defender After a successful 2017/18 season when he gained valuable first team experience on loan in the Welsh Premier League, Ryan made his first team debut for Shrewsbury when required as a starter for a league match in the second month of the 2018/19 season. He was on the bench for the next match but then did not appear in the matchday squad for a few weeks. When he did return, he remained established in the first team squad for the remainder of the season, racking up a double digit number of appearances either off the bench or as a starter and appearances on the bench when not utilized for almost all the other games. Unfortunately, he sustained a serious knee injury just as the season was coming to a close, one that required surgery and many months of rehabilitation. He returned to full fitness in early 2020, making a couple of appearances along with some bench assignments at that time. The abandonment of the season prevented him from having the opportunity to reestablish himself as a regular member of the matchday squads. This season, Ryan has made one appearance in a EFL Trophy match and been on the bench in another but has so far only been on the bench for one league match. He will undoubtedly be working hard to be once again a much more frequent first team contributor, as he was steadily trending toward when the injury occurred.
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