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    Young Guns Blog
    by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 24 Feb 23 : 09:10 refresh for updates

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

    Kwaku Frimpong (AFC Wimbledon) born 2002, Midfielder.
    Developing through the academy and then as a scholar with Wimbledon, Kwaku performed well enough to earn a professional contract with the club in the summer of 2021. Last season, it was deemed that it would be beneficial for him to gain some first team experience as a means of transitioning to senior football. In the first half he was on loan with Leatherhead FC and then he switched to Carshalton Athletic for the remainder of the season. That has translated into him making his first team debut at his parent club this season when introduced off the bench in a Papa John’s Trophy game. He did well enough to be a starter in the next two games in the competition and remained on the field for the whole of them. He has also been on the bench in a half dozen league games and did make a very brief appearance in one. At the end of 2022, he spent a one month loan period at Dartford and then was likewise at Potters Bar for the first month of this year.

    Owen Hesketh (Wolverhampton Wanderers) born 2002, Midfielder.
    After several years as an academy player with Manchester City, Owen was offered a scholar contract at Wolves, joining them and performing more than satisfactorily, as his retention on a professional contract at the club in the summer of 2021 confirms. Last season he did quite well as a member of the U-23 squad, playing in more than half of their games and this season he has played in almost half of the U-21 team’s games. Although he is obviously making a favourable impression with the coaching staff, it is not an unreasonable statement that he may possibly have done more so, had not some untimely injuries restricted his availability and delayed his progression. Owen first played for Wales at U-15 level and was then a member of the 2017/18 U-16 Victory Shield squad. In 2018/19 he played for the U-17 team, but again injury has prevented him from collecting other caps when having to withdraw after selection.

    Iestyn Hughes (Leicester City) born 2002, Defender.
    Affiliated with Manchester United for quite a few years, initially as an academy player and then as a scholar, Iestyn played for the club’s U-18 team, doing so on a regular basis in his second season of scholar status. A decision was however made that he would be allowed to leave the club and so after a trial period with Leicester at the end of the 2020/21 season, they promptly signed him as a member of their development squad. The coaching staff were certainly satisfied with his performances for the U-23 team and management decided to extend his contract prior to the completion of last season. This season, he continued to impress as a member of the U-21 team and consideration was taking place on the next step in his development when an injury deemed his unavailability for an extended period. At present he is in the recovery stage and unfortunately, I do not have any further information. Iestyn has had an association with Wales teams throughout his career, firstly playing for the U-15’s and then for the U-16’s in the 2017/18 Victory Shield competition. In 2018/19 he represented the nation for the U-17’s and then played for the U-19’s the following season. In 2020/21, he was a member of what was regarded as a Wales U-20 team and earlier this season played for the U-21’s.

    Dan Malone (Stoke City – on loan at AFC Fylde) born 2002, Midfielder.
    After joining the club as a very young schoolboy, Dan made excellent progress in the various academy teams before becoming a scholar at the start of the 2018/19 season. Over the next two seasons he played in almost all of the U-18 team’s games as well as making appearances for the U-23 team and occasionally being invited to participate in first team training sessions. Singing on as a full professional in 2020, Dan has continued being a regular selection for the development teams and this season has also had an opportunity to gain some first team experience. For the first half of the season, he was on loan at Altrincham and played for the Stoke U-21 team when available in midweek. Last week, he joined AFC Fylde in another loan arrangement, playing his first game for them at the weekend, adding a second appearance in midweek. As a schoolboy, Dan played for the Wales U-15 team and for the U-16’s in the 2017/18 Victory Shield games. In 2018/19 he played for the U-17’s and then there was a lengthy gap due to the pandemic disruption of his age group games before he played for the U-21’s earlier this season.

    Joe Thomas (Swansea City) born 2002, Midfielder.
    After he had developed through the youth teams and established himself as a first team player at Cambrian and Clydach, Swansea, impressed with his quality, signed Joe in January last year and he became a member of their U-23 squad. He quickly settled in at his new club and played in most of the games in the remainder of the season. It has been a repeat story this season as he has regularly featured for the U-21’s and so the Swans management will feel satisfaction in the singing of Joe. It does seem that the next challenge for Joe will be to display his adeptness in first team football scenarios, he has previously shown his capability in the Cymru South and so the test will need to come in a higher quality non league environment. This is of course just speculation and we will have to wait and see how the coaching staff view the circumstances.

    Matthew Turner (Cardiff City – on loan at Aberystwyth Town) born 2002, Goalkeeper.
    In 2018, Leeds United singed Matthew from Pontardawe so that he could become a scholar at the club which resulted in him having a successful time with the U-18 team, particularly so, in the 2019/20 season. Leeds promptly signed him on a professional contract and loaned him out to Cymru Premier side Haverfordwest County in 2020/21, originally for a half season but then extended for the remainder. Released by Leeds in the summer of 2022, a trial period at Cardiff culminated in their decision to add him to their development squad. He played in a few games for the U-23 team last season, along with many occasions on the bench, but this season has been the most prominent starter for the U-21 team by some margin up until he was loaned out to Cymru Premier side Aberystwyth in early January. He has played regularly for them as he gains further first team experience. Matthew was on the bench for the Wales U-17 team that played in a friendly match against Scotland in the 2017/18 season.


    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Friday 24th February 2023
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