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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 16 Dec 22 : 08:02 refresh for updates

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

    Joe Andrews (Southampton) born 2006, Midfielder.
    A first year scholar with the Saints after having previously been a member of their academy teams for some seasons, Joe has played a handful of times for the club’s U-18 team. What is more significant is his selection and then introduction off the bench for their U-21 team recently. It gives an indication of the coaching staff’s confidence in the quality of his ability that they subjected him to the challenge of operating in a more physically imposing and increased skill level of football so early in his career. Joe has been associated with Wales teams since his early schoolboy days and was a member of last season’s Victory Shield squad that were co-champions of the tournament. This season, he has helped the U-17 team successfully negotiate qualification from the preliminary stage of their European competition and will I’m sure be anticipating participation in the elite stage qualification round in the spring.

    Makenzie Bradbury and Brayden Clarke (Wolverhampton Wanderers) born 2007, Midfielder and Defender.
    Both Makenzie and Brayden are schoolboy affiliates with the Wolves academy teams but have already been introduced to the demands of full-time football by playing for the U-18 team. Their first involvement at that level occurred last season when they each played in a few games, and this has continued in a similar manner this season. In general, I wait until the young players become scholars before I include them as players to be referenced in my weekly articles. On occasion, I do realize a need to be flexible when a special reason occurs and there is an obvious need for a worthy mention. The occurrence I reference is what you may be already aware of through Neil’s player appearance section, the fact that both were elevated into the club’s U-21 squad for a recent match and played significant minutes in the game. Quite a feather in the cap for ones so young, particularly so as it was against a men’s team for an area cup match. The staff obviously have a very high regard of their talent and believe they can facilitate an enhanced progression through the development system with such an exposure. Brayden will be eligible to become a scholar in the summer and so will move on to that phase of his career next season. Although having the same birth year, I am not sure of the birth date for Makenzie and there is a possibility that his eligibility does not begin until 2024. Both have of course been steadily collecting caps through Welsh representation and did so at U-15 level. Makenzie was a member of the Wales U-16 Victory Shield squad earlier in the season and in fact captained the team in at least one of their games. Brayden, although still eligible at U-16, has in fact been playing for the U-17’s this season and helped the team qualify for next year’s elite stage of European competition.

    Alfie Cunningham (Exeter City) born 2006, Forward.
    In his first year as a scholar at Exeter, Alfie has been playing regularly for their U-18’s after also playing some games for the team last season. It continues his association with the club which now stretches back for quite some time, after having joined their academy programme as a young schoolboy. He was involved with Wales teams from those early years when called up for training camps. As did all of those from his birth year, he missed out on Cymru Cup participation in 2020, when the pandemic prevented it from being scheduled. In addition, the cancellation of all international youth football for the 2020/21 season then stopped his chance of playing at U-15 level. His next opportunity to be involved was last season and he was selected as a member of the successful Victory Shield squad. He has continued his international career this season and was a member of the U-17 squad that did well in their preliminary round matches of the European age group championships.

    Ewan Griffiths (Swansea City) born 2006, Goalkeeper.
    Joining the ranks of the scholars this season, Ewan is now getting acclimatized to a life of full time football after previously representing the Swans for a few seasons as a member of their academy teams. He has already played a few times for the Swans U-18 team and has also been recently given some bench time with the U-21’s, as the coaching staff expose him to the next level of development he will face if he is to progress towards first team involvement in the future. Although there are no details to support my assumption, Ewan has probably been in the national set up since an early age and last season played for the U-16’s as a member of the Victory Shield squad. He has continued his international career with the U-17’s this season and will be another eagerly anticipating the spring matches in the elite qualification round.

    Dylan Lawlor (Cardiff City) born 2006, Defender.
    After many years as a member of their academy teams, Dylan is now a first year scholar at Cardiff City. This season he has been playing regularly for the club’s U-18 team after also making double-digit appearances for the team last season. The club has amassed an impressive number of promising youngsters of late and those most to the forefront being rewarded with first team opportunities. Dylan’s aim will be to emulate those teammates as quickly as possible. He is a player very much appreciated by the national coaching staff and was selected as a captain for the U-16 team. He is another member of last season’s Victory Shield squad who has then moved on to the next step by helping this season’s U-17 squad secure the opportunity to progress further in their attempt to qualify for the finals of the European U-17 championships.

    Tom McCullum (Newport County) born 2006, Midfielder.
    Joining Newport’s academy as a fourteen year old, Tom did well enough in the two seasons playing for their teams to be offered the chance to become a scholar at the club in the summer. A defensive midfielder with a good ability to quickly become aware of attacking threats by the opposition and an adeptness at preventing its development, he has adapted well to the demands of U-18 level football and has seemingly become a regular member of the club’s youth team. His aim will now be to build on this early success and develop his skills and abilities to an extent for it to continue his path forward in professional football positively.

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Saturday 10th December 2022
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