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        Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 3 Dec 21 : 07:30  refresh for updates

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

    Joel Cotterill (Swansea City) born 2004, Midfielder.

    Though he is a first year scholar at Swansea, Joel needed no introduction to the demands of U-18’s football, as he made appearances in two thirds of their games last season after having played a couple of matches in the previous one. He has played some games for the U-18’s this season but has been mainly used for the U-23 team and has appeared in most of the games played thus far. The Swansea coaches have decided that he is ready to be challenged at that level of football, having been given an opportunity to experience it with a couple of substitute appearances, one in each of the two previous seasons. If Joel continues on his present rate of progression, the Swansea management team will be assessing the possibility that he may soon be at a stage of being an additional option at first team level. Of course, this is just a comment on my part and acknowledge that it is a very difficult step up in levels of both skill and competitiveness. Having just celebrated his seventeenth birthday a couple of months ago, Joel is a very talented youngster, seemingly on the path toward first team football at some point. He completed his time as a schoolboy international as a member of 2019/20 Wales Victory Shield squad who were co-champions of that season’s competition. Of course, there were no competitive games for the U-17’s last season and so he is a member of this season’s U-18 squad.

    James Crole (Cardiff City) born 2004, Forward.
    In the 2019/20 season James played for the Cardiff U-18 team as an associated schoolboy member of their academy. Making one start and seven substitute appearances, he scored two goals for them and impressed enough to be signed on scholar terms. Since the start of last season, he has played in a further thirty four games for the team and accumulated a total of twenty five goals when doing so. Certainly, an impressive statistic and one he can be very proud of achieving. His intent will be to continue scoring at or near this prolific rate as he moves on with his career and in the near term secure a professional contract to remain at the club next season. He will undoubtedly receive added attention from opponents who will be determined to nullify his scoring threat. The Cardiff coaching staff have already challenged him with the next step in his development by exposing him to U-23 competition. His response has been emphatic, with four goals scored in the two games he has played. Hopefully he can continue to perform similarly against this next level of development football. Doing so would certainly create a need for management to decide the opportune time for him to be tested at an appropriate level of first team football. I am sure that the Bluebirds fans who are aware of his prowess so far, are hoping that he is capable of scoring regularly for the club’s first team.

    Iestyn Evans (Newport County) born 2004, Defender.
    In his second season as a scholar with Newport, Iestyn has been a regular member of the club’s U-18 team, having also played for the team last season. I apologize for the vague comment regarding those appearances, my information about the U-18 line-ups is limited to only having access to FA Youth Cup matches for reference. I can however add that Iestyn has made a good impression on the Exiles coaching staff as he was included in a matchday squad for an early season Papa John’s Trophy game. Starting on the bench, he was introduced as a substitute at the start of the second half and so gained a good amount of experience about the demands of playing at that level of football. His immediate aim will be to continue to impress enough to be the recipient of a contract that keeps him employed by the club beyond the end of his scholar status. I believe I am correct in stating that Newport have added an older group development squad to their playing staff structure this season. It is a means of giving young players the time to enhance their skill set in anticipation they can become first team squad members in a season or two. Hopefully, Newport can be rewarded with a positive outcome for the extra investment such a move creates.

    Jordan James (Birmingham City) born 2004, Midfielder.
    Recruited by Birmingham at a young age to become a member of their academy programme, the coaches at the club were continually impressed with his abilities as he progressed through the age groups and had no hesitation in deeming him worthy of receiving a scholar contract when he became eligible to do so at the start of last season. He then started playing for the U-18 team and played in the majority of games as the season went along. This season, he has played a number of games for the U-18 team, but a decision was made that he was ready to be challenged at the next level of development and so since early in the season he has appeared in quite a few games for the U-23 team as well. His performances resulted in his selection for a bench assignment for the first team in an early November league game, making his first team debut when introduced for the last few minutes of the match. He has remained in the first team matchday squad since that time. There was no substitute appearance in the next match, but in the following one he was needed for the whole of the second half. The assessment of the manager in his post match comments was that he was so pleased with the contribution Jordan had provided, that he would have no hesitation in using him for the team whenever needed. It proved to be so in their most recent match, as he was given a starting assignment, again providing a positive display and in fact credited with the assist for the only goal scored in the game. Certainly, a whirlwind month for Jordan and as we move forward in the season there is a strong likelihood that he will continue collecting experience of playing Championship level football. Jordan has been on the radar of the national coaches since his early days as a schoolboy, taking part in the 2018 Cymru Cup games and then selected in an U-16 development squad in the early weeks of 2020. He attended the training camp assembled late last season for those eligible for U-17 selection at that time, and this season played for the U-18 team in the friendly match against England. His most recent exploits will also have been noticed by the coaches of the more senior teams as well.

    page posted  Fri, 3 Dec 21 : 07:30 :
    refresh for updates

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]

    Posted: Friday 3rd December 2021
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