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    Young Guns Blog
    by John Jones

    page updated: Thu, 6 Apr 23 : 12:40 refresh for updates

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

    Murphy Bennett (Forest Green Rovers) born 2004, Defender.
    Formerly attached to the Manchester City academy teams, Murphy became a scholar at Forest Green at the start of last season and had done well enough that the club signed him to a professional contract prior to the start of this one. Though still eligible for the U-18 team, he is regarded as a first team squad member and is a player the club anticipate will become a regular in the team in future. He made his first team debut last season when substituted in for the final minutes of a Papa John’s Trophy game. There was also a bench appearance for an FA Cup tie and this season there have been some more matchday squad inclusions for cup games with another introduction for the last almost fifteen minutes of a Papa John’s Trophy match. In the 2019/20 season, Murphy made his Wales debut when he played for the U-16 team in a development tournament. Last season he played a few times for the U-18 team and this has been followed by U-19 duty this season as a member of the squad playing in the preliminary round of European qualification.

    Joshua Carey (Swansea City) born 2004, Midfielder.
    As a very young academy player Josh was affiliated with the Chester FC football club before joining Swansea’s programme. He played for their U-18 team a few times in the 2020/21 season before becoming a scholar with them at the start of last season. He played in about half of the team’s games last season and has become a regular inclusion in the team this season. Josh has also been tested at the next step in the player development challenge, being selected a few times to play for the U-21 team. After being a participant in the 2018 Cymru Cup games, Josh played for the Wales U-15 team in the 2018/19 season and was selected as a member of the U-18 squad playing a couple of friendly matches during the present international break. He has had to withdraw, presumably through injury.

    Josh Esen (Wolverhampton Wanderers) born 2004, Forward.
    Making a good impression as a member of the Llanelli Town team was sufficient persuasion for Wolves to sign Josh in the very early days of last season. He is now a second year scholar at the club and having started to play for their U-18 team soon after arriving, has appeared in most of their matches since that time. He has also had a couple of starts and a couple of substitute appearances for the U-21 team this season and will be hoping for more opportunities at that level in the few games remaining. His good club form resulted in Josh being selected for the Wales U-18 squad in the spring of last year and he made his international debut when he played the whole of one of the games played in the two friendly matches arranged with Finland.

    Morgan Lewis and Lewys Ware (Cardiff City) born 2004, Defender and Midfielder.
    As second year scholars with the Bluebirds this season, Morgan and Lewys have established themselves as regular members of the U-18 team and appeared in most of the games the team has played. Morgan started his time in the Cardiff academy as a seven year old and first played for the U-18 team in the 2020/21 season when he made a couple of appearances, following that with involvement in around half of last season’s games. Lewys joined the club just before his teen years and appeared in a double digit number of games for the U-18’s last season. Both have been rewarded with an opportunity to experience the challenges posed at the next level of development with a few games played for the U-21 team.

    Evan Ovendale (Newport County) born 2004, Goalkeeper.
    A couple of years after joining the club’s academy system, Evan graduated to become a scholar at the start of the 2020/21 season. He did well during his time playing for the U-18 team and earned himself a professional contract at the end of last season. Now in his first season as a member of the first team squad, Evan has had a couple of occasions on the first team bench for league games to follow on from the half dozen or so times he did likewise in various competitions last season. He does get credit for one first team appearance when he played in a Welsh League Cup tie in the early weeks of last season. He will be hoping to push on from what he has achieved so far, and it may be that a loan assignment might be a means of him getting first team experience.

    Ben Purcell (Reading) born 2004, Midfielder.
    Introduced to playing U-18 football whilst still a member of the Reading academy, playing in a handful of games in the 2019/20 season, Ben moved into a scholar status at the club the following season. In 2020/21 he played in almost all of the U-18 games that season and then in around a half of them last season. He only played in that number of games because the coaching staff decided to facilitate his excellent progress and so he played in more U-23 team games than for the U-18’s. Ben has been on loan, in search of first team experience, this season. He spent October, November and the first week of December at Hartley Wintney and this was followed by being at Farnborough for the remainder of December and into the middle of January. In February, he joined Kingstonian, and I am not sure whether he is still with the club or has returned to Reading. Ben has represented Wales at U-15, U-16, U-18 and U-19 levels and on occasion has been the captain of the teams he has played in. He of course missed out at U-17’s because of covid restrictions.
    The international break is now completed, and it was certainly a successful one for the Wales teams. The seniors have certainly given their hopes of attending Euro 2024 a good boost with the accumulation of four points from their first two games and it will hopefully be a trend they continue. Both the U-21’s and the U-18’s had impressive results in their friendly matches and the U-17’s gave us a reason to celebrate as they successfully qualified for the finals of their European competition. Congratulations to them for an excellent achievement against some strong opponents.

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]
    Posted: Thursday 6th April 2023
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