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        Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 4 Mar 22 : 07:30:  refresh for updates

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

    Zac Ashworth (West Bromwich Albion) born 2002, Defender.

    A decade of affiliation with Albion teams has seen Zac progress through the various stages of development and make his first team debut this season. Playing for the various academy teams during his time as a schoolboy, Zac did well enough to be signed on as a scholar with the club for the start of 2019/20 season. In his first season with the U-18 team he played in about a quarter of their games and then last season, played in almost all of them. He was retained by the club to become a member of their U-23 squad and has played in most of their games this season. His good form with the team earned him a place on the bench for the first team in a couple of December league games and then in January made his debut when coming off the bench in an FA Cup tie. Primarily regarded as a left back, Zac does have the versatility to also operate in a central defensive or even in a midfield position if necessary. He is a new name for us, Neil having alerted us of his eligibility this season. There is already strong competition for selection for the national U-21 squad but the excellent progress he is making will make Zac another viable candidate for the coaching staff to consider.

    Charlie Caton (Shrewsbury Town) born 2002, Midfielder.
    Shrewsbury recruited Charlie to join the club as a scholar after he had impressed them playing for the Wrexham academy teams. Joining the programme at the start of the 2019/20 season he quickly reassured the coaching staff of his quality when playing in the U-18 team and was given an early taste of first team football circumstances with a bench appearance in an EFL Trophy match. Just before the season was suspended, he was selected in the squad for a couple of league games. He made his first team debut in both competitions last season, initially with brief appearances in Trophy matches and then later in the season in the league when he started one game following a couple of substitute outings. He signed a full professional contract in the summer and has been a member of the first team squad this season. He has been on the bench on many occasions in league matches without being introduced into games but has had a lot of playing time in Trophy matches along with some substitute introductions in FA Cup games.

    Jack Davies (MK Dons) born 2002, Defender.

    Starting his time as a scholar with the Dons in 2018/19, Jack did well enough over his two seasons of youth football to earn a professional contract in the summer of 2020. He continued his good progress and made his first team debut last season, getting a good amount of playing time in four EFL Trophy matches as well as making a substitute appearance in a league match. In the first half of this season, he was loaned out to Oxford City where he gained a lot of praise with his contribution in helping the team be amongst the leaders in their division. The Dons recalled Jack at the start of the year, and he had three occasions on the bench for the first team in January.

    Daniel Malone (Stoke City) born 2002, Midfielder.

    An association with the Stoke academy teams as a schoolboy continued when Dan signed on as a scholar with the club prior to the start of the 2018/19 season. During that time, he played in most of the U-18 team games in his first season and was then an ever present as a starter in the second one. Unsurprisingly, especially since he had occasional involvement with first team training, the club extended his time with them as he moved on to be a member of the U-23 squad. Dan has played in most of the U-23 games over the past two seasons and is obviously continuing to develop his game in a positive manner but as of yet, there has not been any involvement with the first team on game days. He does seem to be ready to move into first team football competition at some level and that may possibly be facilitated by a loan assignment. Dan has been a constant member of Wales squads over previous years, playing at U-15 level and the as a member of the 2017/18 Victory Shield team. He then played numerous times for the U-17 team three seasons ago, but the effects of the pandemic have prevented him from collecting further caps, with the U-19’s competition being cancelled last season.

    Iestyn Hughes (Leicester City) born 2002, Defender.

    As an academy player and then a scholar, Iestyn spent quite a few years affiliated with Manchester United, but it terminated at the end of last season when Leicester offered him a contract to join their U-23 squad. In his first season as a scholar, he played in roughly a quarter of the U-18 team’s games, mostly off the bench. Last season, he started in about two thirds of them, but was then allowed to go on trial at Leicester as the season came to a close. The Foxes are satisfied with their decision to sign him as they have recently announced a contract extension. Iestyn is another who has had plenty of occasions representing Wales over the years. He played for the U-15’s and was then in the Victory Shield squad. In the 2018/19 season he played for the U-17 team and the following season was called up to join the U-19 team as they successfully negotiated progression from the preliminary qualification games of the age group European Championships, later cancelled through pandemic restrictions.

    Joe Thomas (Swansea City) born 2002, Defender.

    Playing for the Cambrian and Clydach Vale teams as a youngster, Joe progressed through the development teams to reach a first team status at the club. Considered their stand- out player in recent times, Swansea noticed his potential and signed him to join their U-23 squad in January. He has adapted well to the new challenge and has already played in quite a few games for the team. A wing-back, Joe will now want to refine his abilities at this level of football and show that he capable of coping with even sterner tests that may be presented to him. It is good to see someone who has done so well in local football be given the opportunity and I am sure that Joe’s aim is to continue working diligently on his game and press a claim to be considered for first team duty with the Swans.

    page posted  Fri, 4 Mar 22 : 07:30 :
    refresh for updates

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]

    Posted: Friday 4th March 2022
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