page updated: Fri, 12 Nov 21 : 07:35 refresh for updates
To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page
Oliver Hammond (Nottingham Forest) born 2002, Midfielder. Oliver began his time as a scholar with Forest at the start of the 2019/20 season and was selected for all of the matches played by the U-18 team in what was eventually a curtailed season. He obviously impressed the coaching staff during that time, as they decided to accelerate his progress last season and use him predominantly in the U-23 team. Even between a couple of appearances for the U-18’s and more than a dozen for the U-23’s, he was missing from the team for a significant portion of the season, and I presume he was unavailable through injury. This season he is a member of the U-23 squad and has played in most of the team’s games and performing well enough to be given his first team debut when playing in a Carabao Cup tie. Now he will want to keep making a good enough impression for the management team to decide for some more first team involvement as the season progresses. Oliver has also had his first involvement with a Wales team when he was called up from the standby list for the U-21 squad last month, making his international debut when introduced off the bench against the Netherlands. Earlier in the week, it was announced that Oliver had once again been called up to join the U-21 squad that will play another couple of qualification games in the coming days.
Eli King (Cardiff City) born 2002, Midfielder. Eli played in quite a few games for the Cardiff U-18 team during the 2017/18 season, the same one in which he represented Wales as a member of the Victory Shield squad. He again played for the U-18’s the following season as he remained a schoolboy associate at the club’s academy. He could not represent Wales as a schoolboy that season as his sixteenth birthday occurred in 2018. He finally became eligible to sign on scholar terms with the club prior to the start of the 2019/20 season and completed that part of his status at the end of the last one. He continued playing regularly for the U-18’s during that time as well as playing in some games for the U-23 side, doing well enough to earn a fulltime professional contract for this season. He is now a member of the U-23 squad and has played in most of their games, impressing enough to be selected on the bench for a couple of first team Championship games. He did make his first team debut when introduced to play the last ten or so minutes of the first of those games and will now want to push as hard as he can to earn more minutes with the team. As already mentioned, Eli is a Wales schoolboy international and has collected a number of caps at that level, adding to them when progressing to play for the U-17 team as well. He will get an opportunity to add more, as he has been selected for the U-21 squad that is competing in the present international break.
Tivonge Rushesha (Swansea City) born 2002, Defender. As a first year scholar at Swansea in the 2018/19 season, Tivonge played in most of the U-18 team’s games along with also making a half dozen appearances for the club’s U-23 team. It was an indication of opinion held by the coaching staff regarding the quality of his abilities, one further demonstrated when he played almost exclusively for the U-23 team the following season and only playing a couple of times for the U-18’s. It was in fact the season in which he made his first team debut, on the bench for the first two rounds of the EFL Cup, he was introduced to play the last quarter or so of the second round game. As that interrupted season came to a close for the first team, he was on the bench for the last two league matches, as well as for both Championship semi final play-off games. Tivonge signed a professional contract with the club prior to the start of last season and became a member of the U-23 squad. A place on the bench for the first round Carabao Cup match and some games for the U-23’s suggested that he would continue pushing strongly for more first team involvement, but unfortunately his season came to an abrupt early conclusion when he sustained a serious knee injury. Surgery and the need for a lengthy rehabilitation period saw him only get to the completion of a return to full fitness in the early weeks of this season. He has managed to play regularly for the U-23’s since that time and shown that the coaches are pleased with his recovery by the selection to be on the bench for the first team’s third round Carabao Cup game, a good sign that he is exhibiting the high quality play evident before his career was interrupted. In the 2019/20 season, Tivonge played for the Wales U-19 team and then shortly before his injury, played for them again in a friendly match. He is also eligible to represent Zimbabwe and they made a strong effort to recruit him for national duty with them last season.
Tom Sparrow (Stoke City - on loan at AFC Telford) born 2002, Midfielder. Tom is in his fifth season of association with Stoke teams after previously being affiliated with the Wolves academy teams. He started his time as a scholar at the club in the 2019/20 season, playing regularly for their U-18 side after having an introduction to that level when playing a few games as a schoolboy. Last season, his second one as a scholar, Tom only played a few times for the U-18’s, having done well enough to be considered ready for regular involvement with the U-23 team. His season went from good to better, impressing so much that he was moved into the first team training squad in the latter part of it and was selected to be on the bench for the last league game of the season. Tom has become a member of the U-23 squad this season and after playing in all their games to that point, has spent recent weeks on loan at Telford. It is only a short term loan, due to expire later this week, but he has gained a good amount of experience of first team football by being on the field for most of the time he has been assisting the club. Tom’s first involvement with Wales teams was when he played in games at U-15 level and continued when he collected caps as an U-17 player. As was the case for almost all the 2002 birth year players, there was no opportunity to play international U-19 football last season, as the competition was cancelled due to the pandemic restrictions.
As you will I am sure have noticed in Neil’s inclusion on the site, the Wales U-17 team secured an impressive result in the first of their age group qualification games. A well-deserved congratulations to them and best wishes for their remaining two games that will hopefully see them progress to qualify for the elite group games later in the season. Best wishes as well for the senior side, as they compete in the final games of their World Cup group matches and that they can achieve results that will provide confidence toward a push for a successful qualification in the spring play-off games.
page posted Fri, 12 Nov 21 : 07:35 : refresh for updates