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    Young Guns Blog
    by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 10 Feb 23 : 07:52 refresh for updates

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

    Aaron Bennett (Preston North End) born 2004, Midfielder.
    Aaron gained a good amount of experience playing for Preston’s U-18 team as an academy member before starting his time as a scholar at the start of the 2020/21 season. He was very much a regular member of the team after that but did miss out a considerable period of time last season as he recovered from an injury. He had, however, done well enough to convince management to reward him with a professional contract at the end of last season and so he remained at the club for this one. He was loaned out to Altrincham for the first half of the season, playing regularly for them until injury disrupted the latter part of his time there. The first team football experience gained playing in ten National league games will have provided valuable assistance in Aaron’s development. In a lengthy participation with Wales football teams, Aaron has played for the U-15’s and then with the U-16’s in the 2019/20 Victory Shield campaign. He was selected for an U-17’s training camp in the spring of 2021 and this season has been a member of the U-19 squad.    

    Harrison Bright (Newport County – on loan at Pontypridd United) born 2004, Defender.
    After being a member of the Cardiff City academy, Harrison moved to Newport and became a scholar at the club at the start of the 2020/21 season. He quickly made a good impression at the club and was rewarded with an introduction to first team circumstances. Named on the bench for two Papa John’s Trophy games he was substituted in on both occasions, the second one for the whole of the second half. Last season, he played the whole of two games in that same competition and then in the spring was on the bench for some league games before debuting at that level with a half hour substitute appearance in the final game. He was retained by the club as a full professional and was involved with the first team in their pre-season preparations but then missed some time through injury. His return to the first team came a couple of months ago when introduced as a very late substitute in a third round Carabao Cup match and was also on the bench for some league games before the loan arrangement with Pontypridd occurred last week. Harrison was involved with Wales teams as a schoolboy and played in the 2018 Cymru Cup games and last season was selected for the U-18 squad but had to withdraw due to an injury.

    Justin Hanks (Nottingham Forest) born 2004, Defender.
    First playing for the Forest U-18 team in the 2020/21 season, Justin appeared in a few games when still an academy associate. He became a scholar at the club at the start of last season and has played in most of the U-18 team games in the interim. He has also played in a couple of games for the U-21 team this season and will now be aiming to become a regular for that team. His hope will be to get at least some amount of games this season as he attempts to convince the coaching staff that he is worthy of a professional contract and so extend his association with the club. Awareness of Justin’s eligibility to represent Wales did not occur until after his time as a schoolboy and so his first involvement occurred last season when selected for the U-18 squad. This season he played for the U-19 team that narrowly missed out on progressing from their group when they contested the preliminary stage qualification of the European Championships.

    Corey Hurford (Swansea City) born 2004, Midfielder.
    Swansea signed Corey in early January last year after he had significantly impressed their scouting department with his performances for Briton Ferry with whom he was a member of their youth team. He settled in quickly and played in most of the U-18 team’s games during the second half of last season and is a member of this season’s U-21 squad, appearing in more than half of the games for that team. Recruited as a wing back, the position that he had occupied during his development at Briton Ferry, he also played there for the Swans U-18’s. A team need for the coaches to play him in an attacking role as the season progressed, resulted in Corey responding by showing his effectiveness as a goal scorer and so he now regarded as a versatile player in the squad.

    Ed James (Exeter City – on loan at Tiverton Town) born 2004, Defender.
    A second year scholar with the Grecians, Ed has certainly had a successful season thus far and will now want to develop his skills to add to the abilities he has displayed. Ed played for the U-18 team as a member of the club’s academy before becoming a regular in the team last season as he started his full time association with Exeter. He continued in the U-18’s this season and did well enough to be given his first team debut as a starter in a Papa John’s Trophy game. He remained in the first team squad for league games and was on the bench for a couple before being introduced as a substitute at that level and then playing in the next match which was another Papa John’s Trophy tie. A few weeks later, he joined Weymouth on a short term loan and played in a game for them. At the start of January, he was loaned to Tiverton and is gaining valuable first team experience as he assists them. Ed was selected to attend a training camp for the Wales U-15 team and that has been his only national involvement so far.

    Morgan Wigley (Cardiff City) born 2004, Forward.
    An association that is now over a decade long, has witnessed Morgan progress through the various academy teams and doing well enough to earn a scholarship with Cardiff, which began at the start of last season. A continuation in the improvement of his quality was confirmed last season as he contributed eleven goals for the U-18 team in the sixteen games he played for them. This season, the coaching staff have decided to facilitate his progress by regular involvement with the U-21 team and so he has only played a few times in U-18 games. Doing well with the U-21’s resulted in him being named on the bench for the first team in their recent third round FA Cup tie. Morgan will now be working hard to add to this experience and realize his ambition to represent the Bluebirds at first team level. Involved with the Wales schoolboy teams when he played in the 2018 Cymru Cup games, he was capped at U-18 level last season and has been a member of this season’s U-19 squad.

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Friday 10th February 2023
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