A new season and a change in presentation for the weekly young gun updates. The intent is to provide relatively timely news about players whose performances are deserving of mention.
There are numerous youngsters who are accumulating important experience as they perform in the first teams of their parent clubs or on loan at other clubs and will be a trend that continues throughout the season. An assumption is made that their feats at present will be common knowledge amongst you, and so I will wait until later weeks to offer some insight into their progress.
This week I will start with something I believe will be a recurring theme in the months ahead. It is first team debut’s and there are already some names for me to mention in that respect. There were in fact two that did so for Cardiff City during their first round Carabao Cup match. Midfielder Joel Colwill was introduced as a second half substitute, playing alongside older brother Rubin for the final thirty minutes of the game in which the team triumphed and progressed to the next round. It was certainly a well deserved reward, as he had gained many plaudits in his performances for the Cardiff U-21 team last season and must have also made a good impression when involved in first team pre-season preparations. Wales have fielded quite a few notable brother combinations in their line-ups over the decades, could we be about to witness the next addition to the list in the seasons ahead. Any wily bookmaker would likely only offer short odds to anyone who might want to wager on it happening. Joining Joel on the field was Cian Ashford who made a cameo appearance for the final few minutes after scoring all four goals as the U-21 team won their game a few days earlier. Cian has also had many admirers of his talent during his academy and development team matches for Cardiff. He has had some injury hinderances, creating disruption to his progression on some occasions, but hopefully that will not recur. Alongside Joel and Cian on the bench for the game was attacker Morgan Wigley and it was the second such occasion for him, having also been in the squad for an FA Cup tie last season. His hope will be to have that third time lucky term in his favour, with his next first team involvement granting him some game time. All three young men have the same birth year, 2004 and have represented Wales in various age group teams over the years. Joel and Morgan played for the U-19 team last season, Cian was not selected as injury rendered him unavailable.
Another debutant in the same competition was Vimal Yogathan, a midfield player who was inserted into the Barnsley line-up in the sixty fifth minute of their cup tie, a match that saw his team eventually eliminated on penalties. Certainly, an exhibition of his manager’s confidence in his capability, when giving him significant playing time in an evenly contested match. Vimal, whose birth year is 2006 is officially a member of the Barnsley U-18 squad, having started out as a scholar at the club last season after previously being an academy player with Liverpool. On the bench for the same match was Jonathan Bland, also a midfielder and in the second year as a member of the U-18 squad. Both Vimal and Jonathan played in most of the U-18 team’s games last season and were back to playing in that capacity a few days after the cup tie. Both will have had their appetite whetted for additional first team involvement as soon as they possibly can, but I’m sure their focus will be to perform as best as possible for the U-18’s as well as increase their experience playing for the U-21 team, having been introduced to that level of play in a few games last season. Another aim for them will be to gain the attention of the national coaching staff. Vimal is eligible for the U-18 team and Jonathan, whose birth year is 2005, collected caps as an U-15 and last season with the U-18’s, will be hoping for selection for the U-19’s.
A candidate to join the debutant list during the season is West Bromwich Albion defender Alex Williams who completed his time as a scholar at the club last season and is now a member of their U-21 squad. He was included in first team pre-season preparations and did get some game time in their friendly matches. Alex, whose birth year is also 2005, has had a long association with Wales teams, playing for each age group, starting at U-15 and doing so for the U-18’s last season. He will certainly be a strong candidate for U19 involvement this season. Baggies first year scholars, midfielder Oliver Bostock and defender Rhys Morrish were starting members of the U-18 team’s first game of the season and are presently assisting the Wales U-17 team competing in the Syrenki Cup tournament. Both of them were born in 2007, Oliver has played for both the national U-15 and U-16 teams as a schoolboy, but it is Rhys’ first involvement with Wales.