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    Young Guns update


    Young Guns by John Jones.

    With another football season drawing towards its closing weeks and the last games of youth and U-23 football only a week or two away in particular, comes the time for me to anticipate that there will only be a couple more versions of the Young Guns before I take a little break for the summer.

    Firstly, I would like to thank Neil for allowing me this platform to share what is a passionate hobby of mine, one that has in one form or another occupied my time enjoyably for a great many years by now. I have certainly enjoyed sharing my thoughts with those of you who have read my comments from time to time and hope that there have been a few informative moments along the way. I have noticed an occasional kind word expressed and acknowledge my grateful appreciation for them. I have found it to be good fun trying to assemble the words in order to give the young men the recognition their achievements deserve and hopefully my writing skills and grammar have been reasonably adequate as I have proceeded.

    A brief look back at some of what has transpired over the last 9 months or so is what I now propose as you are again exposed to reading my opinion. There is a good amount to be encouraged about is what are my thoughts, quite a bit of positive progress has been a general theme of what a great many of the young men we are interested in have developed as they have strived to improve their game. If dare one say, Welsh International football teams do seem to have an exciting amount of talent at their disposal over the coming years. On a personal note I was in North Wales during the early part of the season and was glad to be able to witness the Wales U-21 team play a couple of games whilst there. My conclusion at that time was that I did see some encouraging signs but was unsure of how much talent I had witnessed that could further strengthen the depth of the senior international team squad. What I now have to concede is that some of those young men have made better progress than I anticipated and are certainly finding themselves considered to be strong candidates to supplement the senior squad over time. Congratulations is warranted for the very hard work they have performed over the past many weeks since that time to put themselves in the position whereby they seem to be on course for successful careers. Added to that observation are some younger players who have already been exposed to a good amount of senior club football this season and not only caught the interest of those of us that follow such details, but have thrived enough to gain national media attention. It is very easy to assume that there is a real chance that the Wales senior team can anticipate a continuation of the recent successful period it has enjoyed and I cannot provide any pessimistic thoughts to deny this enthusiasm. What I will however mention is the element of caution that needs to be applied, undoubtedly the evidence to this point is very appealing but it also must be remembered that considerable further progress has to be achieved to reach and stay at performance levels that are required to be competitive in senior international fixtures. I do believe that enough of these candidates can make the Wales football fans excited to see them perform and even though history does tell us that at least for some there will be testing times when they meet adversity, they do seem to have the dedication and determination necessary to realize the full potential of the abundance of talent they possess. I will leave it at that and move on to finish my offering for this week.

    Somewhere around the midpoint of the season, I offered a discussion about some of the '92/93 birth year young men I believed warranted some mention. I now want to add a couple to this list since I feel they have done enough to earn a bit of praise over the last few weeks.

    Aaron Phillips (Northampton Town)
    After developing through the youth system at Coventry City and playing well over 50 times for the first team, Aaron moved on to Northampton for the start of this season. After being in and out of both the first team and matchday squad at various points, he seems to have re-established a first team place during the last couple of months helping the club secure League 1 status for another season. The son of former Wales and Coventry midfield stalwart David, we wish him well and hope he can continue to get regular first team football during the remaining couple of seasons of his contract there.

    Georg Ray (Crewe Alexandra)
    George became a regular in the Crewe League 1 side as a 20 year old, having made a few appearances in the previous season. A Wales U-21 cap followed this, but then his career was a little derailed as he suffered from injuries and some loss of confidence during the next couple of seasons. After a somewhat anonymous first half of this season, he has managed to gain a regular place in the side since the turn of the year and gained some praise from club management for his performances. With his contract needing a renewal if he is to remain at the Railwaymen, it will be a bit of an anxious summer for him. Wishing him well.

    Sam Jones (Grimsby Town)
    I made a brief mention of Sam when discussing young gun moves after the January transfer window. A late 1991 birth date makes him considerably older than most who are included on a weekly basis. His disillusionment with the game and his refrain from playing for quite some time had seen him disappear from any mention in football circles. Having now regained his appetite for football and made a rapid rise through the non-league pyramid teams, gaining enough attention for Grimsby to acquire his services in January, he is back playing full time professional football in the EFL. A continuation of the impressive form he had displayed upon his return to playing has seen him secure a regular place in the Grimsby team as well as becoming an important player for them with the addition of the goal scoring threat he provides to supplement his midfield contributions. There may well be further progression up the league ladder in his future as he makes up for lost time and develops into the player many who saw him at youth level forecasted. We will watch with interest what may lay ahead.
    Posted: Tuesday 2nd May 2017
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