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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 29 Apr 22 : 07:55 : 
    refresh for updates

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

    Ben Coley (Cardiff City) born 2003, Goalkeeper.
    After four years as a member of the club’s academy, Ben began his time as a scholar with Cardiff at the start of last season. After starting the first two games of this season, Ben has been absent from the U-18 matchday squads for the remainder of it and maybe injury has caused the interruption. Ben was a member of the national squad as a fourteen year old in the 2017 Cymru Cup games and then with the U-15’s, but missed out for the U-16’s. He returned to be a member of the U-17 squad for all their games in the 2019/20 season.

    James Connolly (Cardiff City ¿" on loan at Bristol Rovers) born 2001, Defender.
    Playing in a dozen games for the Blackburn U-18 team as an academy player in 2018/19 and then in almost all of the games for the side in the following season as a first year scholar, James was obviously making a big impression on the coaching staff as he began his quest to forge out a good career in the game. This was unfortunately disrupted when only making nine appearances in his second scholar season and then only three as a substitute for the U-23 team as he moved into that level of development football last season. It was followed, unsurprisingly, by a Rovers decision not to extend his contract, one that may prove very beneficial for Cardiff, who decided to sign him as a member of their U-23 squad. His performances for the Bluebirds’ U-23 team in the first half of the season confirmed that sentiment and was then reenforced with his displays for the Bristol Rovers first team since that start of the year. He has certainly provided plenty of evidence about his ability to be extremely competent at League 2 level and Cardiff will be hopeful that he can replicate it in Championship football. Should that be the case, the Wales national teams may well be beneficiaries as well, his eligibility was recently confirmed. He is already a strong candidate for selection at U-21 level and could become one for the senior side in the future.

    Ben Fyles (Blackburn Rovers) born 2003, Forward.

    In his second season as a scholar with Rovers, Ben has only started appearing for the U-18 team in very recent weeks. Last season, he made appearances in about half of the team’s games and so it would seem that he has been unavailable due to a long term injury issue. With the season about to end, the coaching staff will need to make a decision about Ben’s future path forward as he completes his time in youth football. Ben played for the Wales team in the 2017 Cymru Cup games and then for the U-15’s in the 2017/18 season.

    Daniel Hawkins (Shelbourne FC) born 2001, Forward.

    An academy player with Swansea as a schoolboy, Dan joined Hull City in the summer of 2017 and had a couple of reasonably successful seasons as a scholar with the club. The decision was made in the summer of 2019 not to offer him a further contract at Hull and so he moved on to join Salford City as a member of their U-23 development squad. In his first season at the club, he had a couple of successful short term loan assignments at Marine and Stafford Rangers and was selected on the bench for one first team EFL Trophy game. Last season, he played in three EFL Trophy games and in an FA Cup match before joining Finn Harps in July 2021 and playing for them for the remainder of their season which ended in November. In January, he joined his present club and has been playing for them in the early weeks of their season.

    Joe Porton and Luca Smith (Bristol City) born 2003, Midfielder and Goalkeeper.

    Joe did well enough in his time as a scholar with the Robins to be the recipient of a professional contract for this season. As a member of the U-23 squad he has only made one substitute appearance and I am unable to provide an explanation for this statistic. Luca is in his second year as a scholar with the club, but no information is available for me to know how often he has played for the U-18 team this season. Joe first played for Wales when selected for a Wales U-16 development squad in 2018/19 and was then a member of the U-17 squads the following season. This season he played for the U-19 team in the first of two friendly matches against Croatia but was injured and unavailable for the second match. Luca was a member of the schoolboy Victory Shield squad in 2018/19 as well as the U-16 development squad later that season.

    Nathan Sheppard (Dundalk) born 2000, Goalkeeper.
    Progressing through the academy and then as a scholar with Swansea, Nathan accumulated well into double digit appearances for the U-18 team as he shared goalkeeping duties with other teammates. He was however released at the end of the 2018/19 season but soon found new employment as Brentford signed him as a member of their B team squad. He certainly made a good impression in his first season in the development team and the Bee’s coaching staff were confident that they had another potential first team goalkeeping candidate making rapid progress. An injury sustained in a pre-season game in 2020 was initially evaluated as a short term recovery issue, but persisted until mid-season before he was fully fit. Between this and the first team’s promotion to the Premier League, the acquisition of extra goalkeeping talent at the club hampered Nathan’s chance of progression and so he elected to re-establish his career with a move to Dundalk in January. It has proved to be a success, he is playing in a good level of football and has become their first choice goalkeeper, appearing in all the matches since the season started in late February. Nathan’s good form at Brentford in 2019 alerted the Wales coaching staff and he was selected for the U-21 squad in March of 2020. The pandemic delayed those matches until the autumn and so Nathan, injured at that time missed out. He had been involved in training camps as a schoolboy, but he eventually got his first cap when playing half of the U-21 friendly game against the Republic of Ireland in the spring of last year. He has remained a constant in the U-21 squad since that time.

    Morgan Thomas-Sadler (Nottingham Forest ¿" on loan at Ilkeston) born 2002, Defender.
    An academy player at Manchester City and then at Bury, Morgan has certainly had to deal with obstacles as he tries to develop a career in football. About to start his time as a scholar with Bury in the summer of 2019, he abruptly found himself without a club when it succumbed to the financial crisis it experienced. He eventually went on trial at Forest and did well enough for them to sign him to a professional contract in February 2020. Soon after, the pandemic caused the suspension of football, but since it’s resumption, Morgan for some reason, has not made an appearance for either their U-18 or U-23 team. An announcement a few weeks ago that he had joined Ilkeston on loan was good news. I am sorry that I have not been able to find any details of how he is doing there, but hopefully he is getting game time and moving his career in a positive manner. In the 2017/18 season, Morgan played for the Wales U-15 team.

    Matthew Turner (Cardiff City) born 2002, Goalkeeper.
    Leeds United signed Matthew from the Pontardawe youth team in 2018 and he became a scholar at the club at the start of the 2018/19 season. A successful second season as the U-18 team goalie prompted Leeds to offer him a contract to join the U-23 squad in 2020. Last season he was loaned out to Cymru Premier side Haverfordwest, initially on a half season arrangement, which was then extended for the remainder of it. He gained some good experience at that level of football, but Leeds decided not retain him last summer. A successful trial period at Cardiff resulted in the club decision to add him to their U-23 squad part way through the season and he has been given the starting assignment for the team in recent games after numerous occasions on the bench previously. Matthew was selected for the Wales U-17 squad in the 2018/19 season.

    page posted  Fri, 29 Apr 22 :07:55 :
    refresh for updates

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Friday 29th April 2022
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