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    Young Guns update


    Young Guns by John Jones.
    Wes Burns (Fleetwood Town)
    The early days of 2017 has seen Wes return to Bristol City from his loan at Aberdeen and then soon after make a permanent move to Fleetwood. It will be familiar territory for him, as it is the club where he spent a successful period on loan last season. It should also almost surely provide an opportunity for regular first team football, an important requirement that will help the continuation of his development at this stage of his career. He has ability as well as drive and tenacity to be a regular goal scorer for his new club and there can be little doubt of his determination for him to have gained his achievements thus far. If, somehow, he can add even further to his undoubted commitment, making those important evaluators take notice, an eventual move into a higher level of football could occur in the future.

    Gethin Jones (Everton – on loan at Barnsley)
    There is no doubting that the prospect of first team football is what is most beneficial in the way forward for Gethin. He has performed well whilst captaining both his club’s U-23’s as well as the Wales U-21 team and the loan move will now give him a more challenging situation and test skills at Championship level. Debuting in something of an unfamiliar left back role, he nevertheless was praised by management for a more than adequate contribution in what was a very good team performance that produced a satisfying win. Further such displays during the second half of the season could help Everton’s decision of how he fits into their future plans as well as being coveted by other clubs keen to acquire his services. His versatility of being not only capable of filling both full back roles but also a more advanced midfield area is also a feather in his cap.

    Billy O’Brien (Manchester City – on loan at St Mirren)
    Billy is one of a plethora of good young goalkeepers Manchester City have assembled at the Etihad, making it difficult for any of them to gain a progressive amount of experience. His most testing examinations in the past probably came with the Wales U-21 appearances in which he showed an ability to perform in more than capable fashion. His chance to play at Scottish Championship level will provide an additional chapter in his footballing education and should prove a sterner test than he has had to encounter up to this time. A first game where he made important saves that resulted in a very good away win will be a boost to his confidence and provide a belief that he can handle the pressures that will come for him to show the skills that will confirm he is a good quality gloveman.

    Eli Phipps (Colchester United)
    Another of the Cardiff City youngsters to leave the club as management has decided that the places in the U-23 team will be filled with an even younger set of players who will hopefully push for first team spots in time. As was mentioned a few weeks back, Eli has perhaps been under the radar but certainly has a good record of finding the back of the net. Colchester certainly took note of his potential and quickly snapped him up to be part of their U-23 squad. He will initially play at that level but is also expected to be a candidate for a first team chance if he develops as anticipated over the next year or so. He will have a chance to settle down in his new surroundings whilst having someone he knows well nearby. Tommy O’Sullivan, mentioned last week, has also been signed on a permanent basis by United. Two years the senior of Eli, he will of course immediately be concentrating on getting a regular first team place and hopefully his career will prosper as he leaves the capital of Wales for the town which at one time was capital of Roman Britain.

    Jordan Williams, Harry Wilson, and Ben Woodburn (Liverpool)
    I am sure that it was a pleasing sight for Wales fans to see the names of all 3 included in the squad that played the FA Cup replay at Plymouth. Ben and Harry had been anticipated to be involved but at least for me, Jordan was an unexpected inclusion. Monitoring his involvement in the U-23’s, I had noticed of late a mix of starting assignments and substitute roles and could find no real news of how well he was playing. Two days prior to the cup tie he had started the U-23 game and then was replaced at half time, making me concerned that maybe it was an injury setback as had happened earlier in the season. Of course, it was a tactical move to have him available for the Plymouth game. He did not get any game time, but still, it is an indication that he is doing well for him to get first team consideration. Many of you are aware that I am a firm believer that Jordan has the potential to be an influential player in the Wales senior team in the coming years and so it is good to see him pushing towards a level of play that will provide him the experience in order to do so. It was very good to see Harry rewarded with a debut appearance for the first team. According to reports, he has made good effort to keep improving his game throughout the season and so his 25 minutes or so on the field are well deserved. He did show that he is by no means out of place in such circumstances and quite likely did enough to warrant another opportunity to add to his appearance total, possibly as soon as the next round of the FA Cup. Hopefully, it will give him further encouragement to continue in the effort to hone his skills to the extent that will see him succeed in a Premier League environment. Ben does seem to have established himself as a constant part of the first team squad these days and though his game time is fairly restricted as one would expect it to be for one so young, there is also a need for him to gather the necessary experience of being in the cauldron of competitive action as much as possible. I am sure that this the intent of the management team as they move forward and they will likely use every opportunity to do so as wisely as possible. He was on the periphery of the replay for about two thirds of the game as the more experienced players took a principal role. He was neat and tidy in his endeavor to supplement their influence but then stepped in with confidence to orchestrate proceedings for the last third when younger substitutes were introduced, an indication that he is a special player in the making.

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    Posted: Wednesday 25th January 2017
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