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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 20 Jan 23 : 09:05 refresh for updates

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

    Oliver Denham (Cardiff City) born 2002, Defender.
    Seemingly, another injury situation is presenting a challenge to Oliver as he tries to continue to develop his football career in a positive manner. An academy member and then a scholar with Manchester United, injuries at that time prevented him from being available for many U-18 team games. The coaching staff at the club were sufficiently impressed to offer him an opportunity to remain, but a trial and a subsequent offer of a professional contract at Cardiff was the direction he chose. He was quickly inserted as a regular in the development team and then in the early part of last season, Oliver made his first team debut in a Carabao Cup tie. His next assignment occurred when playing in the fourth round FA Cup tie and after numerous occasions on the bench during the second half of the season, played in five of the last six league games. This season, he played in the Carabao Cup and soon after had a couple of bench appearances in league games but has not played for any of the teams since that time. Admittedly it is only speculation on my part to cite an injury, as I am unable to locate any information to verify. Oliver was a regular member of the Wales teams as a schoolboy, playing for U-15’s, U-16’s including the Victory Shield competition and then for the U-17’s in the 2018/19 season before injuries prevented more opportunities until last season. In the spring he was selected for the U-21 squad and then in June was called up as an injury replacement to join the senior squad. He did not make any appearances, but it does give an indication of the impression he had made and hopefully will again do so when he returns to playing.

    Dom Jeffries (Gillingham) born 2002, Midfielder.
    An academy member and then a scholar with Newport, it was a disappointment for both club and player that the severe financial restrictions amid the pandemic lockdown rules prevented offers of further employment for graduating scholars by Newport in the summer of 2020. Dom had done well in his time as a scholar, captaining the U-18 team and making six appearances for the club in the EFL Trophy games. He moved on and signed with Salisbury FC, doing well in his time there and received an offer by Brentford to become a member of their B team squad before the start of last season. He accepted the offer, relished his time there as he was nominated for the squad’s player of the season award. This provided persuasion for Gillingham to recruit him to join their squad for this season. Again, it has been a positive move and Dom has already recorded a couple of dozen first team appearances, establishing himself as a regular starting selection for the team. Dom, who has not had an involvement with Wales teams in the past, remains eligible for the U-21 team for the next two seasons. There is good reason to believe that the squad competing in the next European qualification campaign may produce successful results, there is a large group of candidates, all of them progressing well at their respective clubs. Dom, with his resume of first team football, has a strong claim to be amongst those considered.

    Joe Taylor (Peterborough United) born 2002, Forward.
    The Posh signed Joe from parent club Kings Lynn Town in November 2021 after he had impressed with his scoring prowess whilst on loan at Wroxham FC. He initially joined their development team until he could be fully registered at the club in the January 2022 transfer window and he could integrate into the first team squad. Towards the end of the season, he accumulated some playing time with late game appearances in a few Championship matches and acquitted himself well when doing so. This season, he is very much a part of the first team squad and has made more than a dozen appearances as he still acclimatizes to quite a large step up in caliber of opponent. Now he will want to add significantly to his playing time as the season progresses and try and get a regular starting role in the team. Awareness of Joe’s possible Wales eligibility became apparent after his Peterborough transfer, and this was later confirmed after document verification. Joe made his Wales debut when he played for the U-21 team in a friendly match earlier this season.

    Josh Thomas (Swansea City) born 2002, Forward.
    Signing on with Swansea when he was twelve, Josh was a prolific scorer for the academy teams and unsurprisingly became a scholar with the club in the summer of 2019. He made his debut for the U-18 team as a fifteen year old and then played fairly regularly for them in the 2018/19 season. He continued his good goal scoring form at that level and was top scorer for the team in his first season of fulltime football. He carried on scoring as the 2020/21 season started and signed full professional forms a few weeks later after just celebrating his eighteenth birthday. It turned out to be a bittersweet period for him, as after that he sustained an injury that kept him out for the remainder of the season as well as the whole of the last one. Eventually fit by the start of this season, Josh played for the U-21 team and was quickly back in goal scoring form, his performances being rewarded with a place on the bench for the first team in a Carabao Cup game. This has been followed by another three for league matches and now he will be hoping for some game time at that level at some point in the season. Josh has not been available for all of the U-21 games and there seems to have been some minor fitness issues. Hopefully, he can remain relatively injury free for the remainder of the season. His goal scoring record was sufficient reason for Josh to be constantly in the thoughts of Wales selectors throughout his development and as a schoolboy played for the U-15’s, U-16’s and U-17’s. He was then selected for the U-19’s in the 2019/20 season and was eligible for them again in the pandemic disrupted 2020/21 season. He did play for what was cited as a Wales U-20 team in an autumn 2020 friendly match. He does remain eligible for the U-21’s and that will be his next target.

    Cian Tyler (Coventry City) born 2002, Goalkeeper.
    Cian began his time as a scholar with the Sky Blues in the summer of 2018 after previously impressing coaches at the club during his time playing for their academy teams. He didn’t disappoint, as he played well for the U-18 team, also gaining experience with the older development team. Added to that was a bench appearance for the first team in their FA Cup first round tie in November 2019, then in the February of 2020, he was loaned out to local non-league club Barwell to gain first team experience. It turned out to be a shorter period than anticipated due to pandemic disruption, but Cian did gain plaudits in the games he played. He became a full professional at the club in the summer of 2020 and a few weeks later was on the bench for a Carabao Cup game. Last season, there were a couple more instances of doing so in league games. This season, Cian gained some more first team experience when playing for Hereford during a couple of short term loan assignments there in the early months and then came the most recent Coventry first team bench appearance for last weekend’s league game. The first occasion of an association with Wales teams for Cian happened when he was called up to the U-17 squad as an injury replacement in the 2017/18 season and then he played for the U-16’s a few months later. He was a regular member of the 2018/19 U-17’s squads and, with the cancellation of many age group competitions in recent seasons, had to wait until earlier this season for his next international opportunity, playing for the U-21 team.

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Friday 20th January 2023
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