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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Mon, 9 Jan 23 : 09:50 refresh for updates

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

    Zac Bell (Bristol City) born 2004, Defender.
    Affiliated with City’s academy as a youngster, Zac then became a scholar at the club in the summer of 2020. He played regularly for their U-18 team during that time as well as accumulating around a couple of dozen appearances for the U-23 side over those two seasons. It was therefore not a surprise that he had done well enough to have earned a professional contract and is now a member of the U-21 squad. He has played in most of the games the team has played this season as well as playing in a couple of games for National League South side Bath City with whom he was on loan earlier in the season. A defender who can also operate proficiently in an attacking wing back role, Zac has been involved with Wales teams from a young age. As a schoolboy, he played for the U-15’s and then was a member of the Victory Shield squad in the 2019/20 season. Last season, he was called up as an injury replacement for the U-19’s when they played an early season friendly tournament and later played for the U-18’s. This season he was a member of the U-19 squad that competed in the preliminary group qualification European matches that narrowly missed out on progressing on to the elite stages.

    Joel Cotterill (Swansea City) born 2004, Midfielder.
    After a couple of instances on the bench for Championship matches late last season, Joel made a first team debut for his hometown club when introduced as a substitute for the final eleven minutes of the first round Carabao Cup game this season and produced the scenario that had been viewed as increasingly likely over the years. During an almost ten year association at academy level with the club, his progress has been noted as well above average. Playing a couple of times for the U-18’s as a fifteen year old during the abbreviated 2019/20 season, Joel then played regularly for the team the following season. Signing on as a scholar with the club at the start of last season, he only played a very few times for the U-18’s as the coaching staff preferred to challenge him with older development team football. He did well enough in that assignment to earn a professional contract with the club in the summer and is continuing to play exclusively for the U-21 team this season apart from the mentioned cup tie. His quest now will be to add to that solitary experience and help the club gain success. Such a resume means that Joel has been involved with Wales teams from the earliest of times, playing for the U-15’s and U-16’s as a schoolboy and then moving on to the intermediate teams and being a regular starter for the U-19’s this season.

    James Crole (Cardiff City) born 2004, Forward.
    Impressive as a member of Cardiff’s academy teams led to James being introduced to the demands of U-18 football with one start and seven substitute appearances in the 2019/20 season. He contributed with a couple of goals at that time and then the following season, his first as a scholar, he played in all but one of the team’s games and scored at a rate of well over one in every other match. Last season, he didn’t appear quite as frequently, but did score consistently and was at a rate of very nearly one per game. He was also introduced to U-23 level football at that time and in a little over a dozen games scored six times. This season, as a member of the U-21 squad, he is joint top scorer for the team that is doing very well and up with the leaders in their division at present. The per game ratio is quite a bit lower as the goals scored by the team have had a contribution by many players. Having been involved with the first team during pre-season preparations, James will be hopeful of earning an opportunity in a competitive match and test whether he can be a scoring threat at that level. Not involved with Wales teams as a schoolboy, he and the other 2004 birth year boys were unfortunate that no competitive opportunity was possible at U-17 level due to the restrictions created during the pandemic. Last season, however, he was a starting member of all the games the national U-18 team played as well as playing in all the games this season’s U-19 team played in the European qualification competition.

    Owen Hampson (Sheffield United) born 2004, Defender.
    As a schoolboy, Owen was a member of Manchester United’s academy but then moved to Sheffield United when he started his time as a scholar at the club at the beginning of last season. It was considered a reasonably successful first season of U-18 football with appearances in almost half of the games and then this season he has played in nearly all the games that the team has played. It is, however, far from providing the complete story of Owen’s progress, as he is having a busy and somewhat eye-catching phase of his career. Introduced to the next phase of development football last season with one start and one substitute appearance for the U-23 team, this season he has played in more than half of the U-21 team’s games. Added to this, is that Owen had primarily played as a defender, although accepted that he could be utilized on occasion as a creative midfielder, over the years. At some point, earlier in the season, a position change to a more forward role occurred and he has become an important goal contributor for both teams. It may well be that the coaching staff will now have a preference to use him in this more attacking role in future. Owen was selected as a member of a Wales U-17 group assembled for a training camp in the 2020/21 season. The national coaches will quite likely be making note of his recent accomplishments and selection for a future squad may increase in possibility, particularly so, if he exhibits a continuing increased adeptness in this new position.

    Morgan Williams (AFC Wimbledon) born 2004, Midfielder.
    A second year scholar with the club, Morgan was a long time member of Wimbledon’s academy prior to his joining the club on a full time basis at the start of last season. Already familiar with U-18’s football from his time as a schoolboy, Morgan has continued playing regularly for the team both last season and during this one. He has also been frequently involved with the older development team during that time, including representing the club in local area cup competitions. He has not yet made his first team debut for them but has had instances on the bench for Papa John’s Trophy matches both last season and this one, along with a League 1 game last season. Morgan has had an association with Wales teams for many years, playing for the U-15’s and U-16’s and then attending training camps for the U-17’s as a schoolboy. Last season, he played a number of times for the U-18 team and also twice for this season’s U-19 team, when they competed in the European qualification matches.

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Monday 9th January 2023
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