page updated: Fri, 13 Aug 21 : 06:10 : refresh for updates
To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page
Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea) born 2000, Midfielder. Although his twenty first birthday does not arrive until next month, Ethan is a player very familiar to all Wales fans these days, having been a regular member of the senior squad since making his debut in late 2017. The quality of his talent is such as to be regarded as not only an increasingly influential member of the team going forward, but also an important leader and undoubtedly a potential captain. The pace at which these expectations unfold are probably to be determined by the development of his game which allows him to be involved regularly at elite level club football, as barring some unforeseen circumstances, his ability will lead him to do so at some point. For the benefit of the Wales team, the sooner that time arrives the better. Presently, it seems undecided whether he will remain at Chelsea or go out on loan once more this season. In my opinion, the pros and cons are potentially in equal measure whatever the outcome. Hopefully it is one that benefits Ethan the most personally and allows him to develop in a manner that suits him.
Ben Cabango (Swansea City) born 2000, Defender. Ben experienced his initial first team football involvement when loaned out to The New Saints during the first half of the 2018/19 season, gaining many admirers with his performances for the Cymru Premier side. Returning to Swansea for the second half of that season, he made good use of what he had learnt in those previous months and continued developing his game whilst playing for the U-23 team. Two seasons ago he made his first team debut for Swansea, playing in the three rounds of the EFL Cup games in which they were involved. As the season progressed, he made his Championship debut and established himself as a regular member of the team during the second half push for eventual play-off involvement. Last season he continued to be a regular member of the defence that again made the play-offs, coming close to making a Premier League return that all concerned with the club yearned for. His good club form earned him a selection for the Wales senior squad at the start of last season and he made his debut for the team with a brief substitute appearance at that time. He continued to be selected in squads throughout the season and gained substantially more playing time with a couple more appearances. It culminated with his selection for the Euro’s squad although with the team well served in the central defensive roles, he did not add any playing time in the summer. There is no doubt that he is a determined character, and I am sure his aim will be to dedicate his energy towards improving his performances at club level and make himself an option for the senior team should the incumbents fail to maintain the highest of standards.
Dylan Levitt (Manchester United) born 2000, Midfielder. After making his debut for the Wales senior side at the start of last season, Dylan has already accumulated almost a double-digit number of appearances for the team since that time. Although it has to be noted that most of his on-field minutes have occurred in games regarded of lesser importance for the national team, there can be no doubt that the coaching staff have a very high regard of the quality he possesses and view him as a candidate that can possibly provide important contributions in the future. This season will probably determine the rate at which such a scenario may become possible. At present, one of the key attributes needed to enhance his development, is gaining experience playing good quality first team football and it is almost certain that he will go away from his club on a loan assignment. In his time in youth football, his abilities were favourably compared with former players who attained a great deal of success in the game and his aim now will be to replicate those plaudits when opinions are professed about his performances in senior football. Should he achieve those goals, or even attain comments of a similar nature, fans of both club and country will have the opportunity to witness some high class performances.
Neco Williams (Liverpool) born 2001, Defender. It has been a whirlwind twelve months or a little longer, as Neco gained the attention of many Wales fans previously unaware of his potential capabilities. He was certainly an exciting new addition to the senior squad last season and delivered some important contributions on occasions. Even from his days as a schoolboy associate with the club, the Liverpool coaching staff continually challenged Neco to play at a level of football above what was generally expected by his age group peers. His success in negotiating those demands inevitably resulted in him being given an opportunity to perform for their Premier League side and although inexperienced in first team football, showed that he was not out of place in such circumstances. Over recent weeks, a good deal of speculation has evolved regarding how Neco’s career will progress from this point, suggestions being relayed that Liverpool may be willing to consider transfer overtures for him. I shall not add any further comments in that respect and will wait and see what develops.
This week I have discussed four young men who are regular members of the Wales senior squad at this time. At their age, some years remain before they reach the peak of their footballing powers, suggesting they may be capable of regularly performing at an elite level of club football by that time. If those improvements in their abilities do come to fruition, the Wales senior side will certainly be a beneficiary of containing some very skillful players amongst its team members. Of course, one can never be sure as to how the future does unfurl and so you can only consider them as an expression of my optimistic thoughts for now. It is, however, not an unreasonable projection of possible outcomes when considering what they have achieved thus far in what is essentially still fledgling careers. What is maybe even more important in the overall picture I am trying to paint is that they are certainly the most prominent of the young guns at present, but there are also a significant number of other youngsters who could possibly develop into strong contenders for Welsh senior squad inclusion. You will see my opinion of the potential candidates as Neil kindly publishes my musings in the coming weeks.
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