page updated: Fri, 20 Aug 21 : 11:37 : refresh for updates
To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page
Rubin Colwill (Cardiff City) born 2002, Midfielder. A number of years progressing through the academy and then the scholar programme ultimately culminated in Rubin having done well enough to be a recipient of a professional contract last summer. The coaching and management staff at Cardiff believed that he was a prospective candidate for first team involvement at the club if he could continue to make improvements in his game. Starting the 2020/21 season as a member of the club’s U-23 squad, he quickly enhanced his game and caught the eye of the new manager as he witnessed training sessions. He did well enough to get incorporated into the first team squad and was given his debut a few weeks later. That also proved successful as he continued regular inclusion in the matchday squads, making a total of six appearances as the season progressed to its conclusion. His success at club level resulted in selection for the Wales U-21 squad for a spring friendly, followed by selection for the senior squad that participated in pre-Euro friendlies at season’s end. He again made a big impression, enough to warrant inclusion in the national Euro squad. He made his senior international debut in one of the friendlies but was not involved in any of the Euro matches. It was however another important step for him, gaining experience training with top class players over a period of weeks. This season it is anticipated that he will become increasingly influential for the Cardiff first team over the months ahead. A late return to pre-season preparations due to his Euro involvement, further complicated by covid issues, does mean that he has only sparingly been used so far. I believe that he intends to change those circumstances in the coming weeks, and we Wales fans will be happy to see him do so.
Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest) born 2001, Midfielder. It is of course very early into the season as I write this, but it does seem that Brennan is to be given the opportunity to firmly establish himself as a regular member of the Forest team going forward. Many of the club supporters have been aware of his quality since he was performing well above average expectations for the club’s development teams and have been wanting for him to be afforded such a chance in the past two seasons. Given his first team debut at the start of the 2019/20 season, a cautious approach in first team selection decisions resulted in him only being sparingly used in first team situations over the following months. Avoiding a possible replication of those events last season, club management decided a loan assignment as the next step in his career, an occurrence bringing much delight to all concerned with Lincoln City. He bolstered his first team experience significantly, playing in almost all of the games the team participated in. He not only played regularly for the Imps but also made significant contributions to the successful season they enjoyed as they almost secured promotion from League 1 to the Championship. Brennan is an attacking midfield player, adept in providing assists to his fellow forwards, as well as having an eye for goals himself. In his career in development football, he was usually the top goal scorer for the team each season, often by quite some margin. He continued both his very good scoring and assist record whilst at Lincoln and so he will now want to do so as he gets challenged in the higher levels of the game. If he can maintain these qualities in his career progression, he will become a much-valued player in the teams he represents. Brennan represented England a half dozen times as a schoolboy and then once at U-17 level. Wales offered him the opportunity to continue his international career and since that time he has collected numerous caps at U19 and U-21 levels as well as making a couple of brief appearances for the senior team last season.
Rabbi Matondo (Schalke 04 ¿" on loan at Cercle Bruges) born 2000, Forward. It has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride in the career progress Rabbi has made in the last couple of seasons. Having made the brave decision that he was ready be tested with first team football rather than continue to hone his game in development levels, I am sure he will feel that it has not gone as well as he would have hoped. Injuries at inopportune times have not been helpful and last season the struggles of the Schalke team was also a hinderance. This season he will be trying to establish himself as a good performer in the Belgian First Division as he embarks on his loan at Bruges. He can certainly take along some positives, as he has gained a good amount of first team football experience in the time since his move to German football. In some of those appearances he has also shown some of the exceptional ability he possesses which prompted Schalke to originally sign him. What would possibly benefit him most in the months ahead is an improvement in some of the weaker aspects of his game adding further quality to some which he has in abundance, likely providing greater consistency and a bigger impact on matches he is involved in. Another positive during this time that has probably been frustrating at times for him is that the Wales coaching staff have a strong regard for his talent, and he has been selected for the senior squad several times.
This week the focus has been on three players who, along with the four mentioned last week comprise the list of young guns who have already represented Wales at senior international level. Quite an impressive roster, particularly so when considering the qualities already exhibited and the potential for further improvements as they mature toward what is usually the peak performance years of a footballer. That time, theoretically, is some years away, an exciting prospect for us fans if they can continue the trajectory of adding to their talents in the same manner as they have adjusted to senior soccer circumstances up to the present. It is not going to be an easy task for them. They will already know the dedication and determination required to have the successes they have gained, and it will take similar and probably greater efforts for them to maintain a positive progress. Those in the positions they vie to replace will be doing their utmost to retain their status and though such changes are eventually inevitable, there will be no surrender without making it as difficult as it can possibly be. I have discussed seven so far, added to those who are not very much older and make up the substantial portion of the extended Wales senior squad at this time, it provides an amount of evidence for exciting thoughts to be promulgated. I cannot promise that even better times than we have enjoyed in recent years is assured, but I can present a vision that there is a better than vague possibility of it happening.
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