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        Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 5 Mar 21 : 06:33 : refresh for updates [ scroll down to post your comments ]

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

    Ryan Barrett (Newcastle United) born 2001, Defender.
    Now in his second season as a fulltime professional with United, Ryan has impressed in his time in their academy and subsequently as a scholar to have become a member of their U-23 squad. Injury situations have limited his appearance tally at both U-18 and U-23 levels, but his ability has still provided the coaching staff with enough positive views that he has been involved in first team training sessions on occasion. Ryan will be hoping that eventually his progress will be sufficient to warrant playing time in the Magpies senior side. He has played for Wales teams since his schoolboy days and was a member of the Victory Shield squad for his age group. He also represented the nation in the 2017/18 UEFA U-17 competition qualification games. His aim now that he is back to full fitness and has been playing regularly lately, is to gain selection for Wales at U-21 level.

    Ryan Bevan (Swansea City) born 2001, Defender.
    Having done well in his time in the Swansea academy teams and then as a scholar at the club, Ryan was rewarded with a fulltime professional contract at the completion of last season and is now a member of the U-23 squad. Having played a few times for the U-23’s last season, this time around he has started in all but one of their games and came off the bench to play in that other one. Although he has played mostly as a right back for teams in his younger days, I believe I am correct in stating that he has tended to be used in a midfield role in more recent games, able to perform either as a defensive or attacking option. His next step will be to gain experience in first team football circumstances, and it may well be that in the short term a loan arrangement might be an option considered as a means of expediting his progress. He has collected quite a few Wales caps over the years and was also a member of the 2016/17 Victory Shield squad as well the European U-17 games the following season. He is certainly a contender for inclusion in the soon to be announced Wales U-21 squad. It is a large group of talented players that will be considered, and the selectors will have quite an amount of pondering as the decisions are made for the composition of the squad.

    Ben Margetson, (on loan at Sutton Utd - Defender) Ryan Reynolds (Cardiff City) born 2000, Midfielder.
    Both players are in their second season as members of the Cardiff U-23 squad after having received fulltime professional contracts by the club in the summer of 2019. Ben has been loaned to National League side Sutton United since mid January and made a couple of appearances on the bench for them but has not been in the matchday line-up in their most recent games, and has returned to Cardiff this week. He had been doing well in the prior part of the season, playing in over half of U-23 games up to that time and having done similarly for the team last season. He is a versatile player who can operate anywhere in the back line and even provide some defensive midfield cover if needed. In Ryan’s case, he is listed as a member of the U-23 squad but has not played any games this season. He played in the first two U-23 games last season and has been missing from the team since that time. I suspect that it is an injury and judging from the length of presumed recovery, must have been serious. It is hoped that at some point Ryan can return full fitness and resume playing again. Ryan has played for Wales teams as a schoolboy, U-17, and U-19 international and was sometimes chosen as captain for those teams. We certainly wish him well and look forward to witnessing his name on a team sheet again.

    Christian Norton (Stoke City) born 2001, Forward.

    After an excellent season as a second year scholar with Southampton, Christian became a member of the U-23 squad at the club last season. As the season went along, the Saints management team made a decision that his contract would not be extended beyond the one year that he had signed and so was allowed to play on trial for the Crystal Palace U-23 team. A short while after, football stopped as a result of the pandemic and eventually the remainder of the development football season was cancelled. Shortly after the start of this season Stoke decided that he was worthy of a place in their U-23 squad, and he signed for them. Not only has he done well enough to play regularly for the U-23 team since that time, his performances have earned him a place on the bench for the first team in their three most recent matches and I’m sure he is hoping for an opportunity to experience some Championship minutes. Christian was somewhat a latecomer in his involvement with Wales teams, the staff only becoming aware of his eligibility when selecting him for the U-19’s in the 2018/19 season. He also played at that level last season and present form suggests he will be a strong contender for inclusion in the soon to be announced U-21 squad.

    Sion Spence (Crystal Palace) born 2000, Midfielder.
    After doing well in their academy teams, Sion started as a scholar with Cardiff City in the 2017/18 season and had a remarkable record of scoring at a rate of very nearly a goal a game in the quarter century of matches he played. Considered an outstanding achievement for any striker, his role was as an attacking midfielder in the team. The following season, injuries limited his availability to about half of the games but he still maintained a good scoring rate and so it was unsurprising that the club decided to retain his services as he became a professional and part of the U-23 squad. Injuries again intervened as he started in that mode last season and he was only able to play in nine games culminating in him being released. He was only without a club for a short period as Crystal Palace quickly recruited him to join their U-23 playing staff. It has proven to be a good move as he has scored six goals in the nine games he has played, and his good form was noticed by the Wales coaching staff as well. Playing for the U-21 team earlier in the season means that he now has a collection of caps covering all of the age-grade Wales teams. He remains eligible for U-21 duty for the next two seasons.

    ++ to be confirmed if eligible for Wales

    page posted: Fri, 5 Mar 21 : 06:33 refresh for updates [ scroll down to post your comments ]

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]

    Posted: Friday 5th March 2021
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