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    Young Guns Blog
    by John Jones

    page updated: Tue, 21 Mar 23 : 10:08 refresh for updates

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

    Rhys Allport (Crewe Alexandra) born 2006, Forward.
    A first year scholar with The Railwaymen, Rhys has been an important member of the U-18 squad all season. In the limited information I have been able to locate, he has come off the bench in all their FA Youth Cup ties and been on the field for significant minutes in all three of those games. I’m sure that he must have also had a good amount of playing time in league matches, having also had one instance of being substituted in for the U-21 team. He will now want to build on those achievements, becoming even more prominent in the teams for the remainder of this and then next season.

    Daniel Cox (Derby County) born 2006, Defender.
    As a member of Derby’s academy last season, Dan was beginning to establish himself as a regular selection for the U-18 team when he sustained an injury in the late weeks of 2021. It rendered him unavailable for the remainder of the season and was in fact still in the recovery process as he began his time as a scholar at the club this season. It took the entirety of 2022 for him to return to full fitness and begin to play for the U-18’s in January of this year. Dan has played for Wales as an U-15 and U-16 schoolboy, including being a member of the successful 2021/22 Victory Shield squad. He did miss out on playing for the U-17’s in the autumn European qualifiers but is in squad that will compete in the elite round games next week.

    Trey George and Cody Twose (Cardiff City) born 2006, Midfielders.
    After both made one substitute appearance for the U-18 team last season, Trey and Cody have become important members of the squad as they start their time as scholars at Cardiff. Trey has played in most of the games and Cody in around three quarters of them. They will want to continue being regular selections with the intent of moving their careers in a positive fashion and becoming possible first team candidates in the future. Cody played for the Wales U-16 team last season and then for the U-17’s in this one. He is a member of the squad announced to compete in the upcoming European qualification games. Trey joined Cody as one of those selected and assembled for an U-17’s training camp in August 2022.

    Cameron Llewellyn and Kit Margetson (Swansea City) born 2006, Defender and Goalkeeper.
    Both Cameron and Kit are gaining the experience of playing time in the U-18 team as they negotiate being first year scholars at Swansea. In what is a congested situation of capable goalkeepers, Kit has managed to get an equal share of starts as the other contenders. Cameron has only had one starting assignment but there have been nine occasions when he has been introduced off the bench, quite often somewhere near the mid point in the second half, and so has accumulated significant minutes on the pitch. Kit played for the Wales U-16 team that participated in a development tournament in the late part of last season. He played for the U-17 team that travelled to Israel for a couple of friendly games last month and is in the squad selected for the elite round games.

    Kai Smutek (Hearts of Midlothian) born 2006, Defender.
    Very much a newcomer to the Wales teams, Kai made his debut for the U-17’s when playing in the friendly games against Israel as preparation for the elite round games. He has not been included in the recent squad as a number of injury absentees returned to the selection roster. A member of the U-18’s squad at his parent club, Kai has been doing well in that team as is signified by his appearances for the club’s B team which competes in the Lowland League, a league that is mostly made up of men’s football teams.

    It has been a period of five months since the Wales senior team’s last game, and we can now look forward to soon be cheering for them once more with the imminent start of the next qualification campaign. Over the next eight months, matches will be played to determine the composition of the list of teams attending the Euro 2024 tournament held in Germany. A Wales team participating in a third consecutive finals is not an improbable event for us fans to anticipate. Although the team will be without some of its past influential contributors, the squad can still be considered to contain enough quality for it to produce the required positive results and retain its status of a ranking amongst the top dozen or so European nations. I am not suggesting that it will be any different to previous qualification campaigns, whereby the eventual determination was very much on a knife edge throughout. A mix of high quality experienced regulars assisted by some excitingly talented newcomers will hopefully be able to overcome the absence of those past stars and have The Red Wall planning their travels next summer.

    Although undoubtedly and understandably, most attention will be focused on the senior team games, the U-17 team will also be attempting to qualify for a finals event as they play in the elite round of their age group European competition. The team did well in the autumn games and narrowly finished top of their group against some tough opponents. They do have the slight advantage of being the host nation, but in all probability the task will be more difficult than during the preliminary qualification games. I do believe that they have a reasonable chance of being successful and if that was so, it would be a reason to celebrate. No Wales age group team has previously participated in a finals competition. Some very talented youngsters have been selected in the squad and so let’s hope that some home support can witness a bit of history. We certainly wish them the best of luck possible. The U-21 and the U-18 squads are also in action during the international break and will play friendly games as they prepare for future competitive matches.

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Tuesday 21st March 2023
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