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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea)
    Having impressed playing for the Exeter City first team whilst still a schoolboy, it was not surprising that Chelsea acquired his signature in the summer of 2017. Initially considered as a youth team player, he was quickly moved into the first team environment and made numerous appearances before his season was prematurely ended by an injury. This also prevented Ryan Giggs having him available for selection for his first matches in charge but will almost certainly be in the squad for the upcoming Nations Cup matches. It can also be anticipated that he will have increased participation in Chelsea first team games, thereby providing valuable experience which will be important for international matches.

    David Brooks (Bournemouth)
    The challenge of performing in the Premier League now becomes the next chapter in David’s career. It may turn out to be the perfect move for both player and club as they conspire together in improving fashion. Having only had a limited amount of Championship experience it is certainly a big step forward. Even so, he has already shown that he can potentially succeed in such surroundings with his displays for the Wales senior side. Some of Bournemouth’s rivals may well rue that they hesitated when evaluating whether to bid for his services.

    Chris Mepham (Brentford)
    It was quite a startling season for Chris as he stepped out from the obscurity of playing development level football at its start and finished it as a senior international player, catching the eye of many with his assured performances against accomplished opponents. This has prompted some comments that a move into the Premier League may well be a possibility in the near term. His club have already allowed some of its star players to move on this summer and there may be a reluctance to allow a further depletion of their resources. Another season of getting fully acclimatized in the demands of Championship football may also be beneficial to Chris personally.

    Matthew Smith (Manchester City – on loan at FCTwente)
    During the 2 years Matt was a youth player at City, he played relatively few times for the club’s U-18 side. This was because he quickly progressed into involvement with the U-23 team, quite an achievement and an indication of the talent he possesses. This was further endorsed by his introduction to senior international football when used by Ryan Giggs as a substitute during the Mexico match. Not surprising that the powers that be at the Etihad Stadium decided that he is ready for a move into first team football. Another challenge that Matt is expected to thrive on and Twente fans will hope he can help drive the team back to promotion into the Eredivise.

    George Thomas (Leicester City)
    George was another who gained his first senior international cap when appearing in the second half of the Mexico game. It culminated a season of steady progress at Leicester after his move there from Coventry, a Premier League bench assignment for the season’s final game a reward for his endeavours. Hopefully, he can consolidate his reputation further this coming season. Whether that culminates in a first team appearance for the club is uncertain, a period of gaining first team experience at Championship level may be what provides the greatest benefit to his career at this time.

    Harry Wilson (Liverpool – on loan at Derby County)
    It was a lengthy period between the time of Harry gaining his first and second caps as he was seemingly coveted at Liverpool and yet some distance from getting moved into the first team squad. As we know, it quickly changed when the loan period at Hull was agreed. His first goals at senior international level soon followed and he continued showing his capability in the cauldron of Championship football was more than adequate. Now comes a further opportunity to shine as he joins the Derby squad. Competition for a place in the team will be fierce, as the Rams intent is on securing promotion and have acquired the players they believe can deliver.

    Ben Woodburn (Liverpool – on loan Sheffield United)
    What lies in store for Ben is still a mystery at present. With Liverpool including him in their pre-season squad, they are obviously in no rush to discount him from continuing in it during the season. Rumours and speculation that a loan assignment is a strong possibility has been almost as hot a topic as the summer weather and it may be the eventual outcome. Little utilized in first team games by the club last season, it may well have been a correct decision as he continued to develop physically. Now may be the time where an increased physical intensity of games is the best way forward. Liverpool have a strong and deep squad and have added more to it in the transfer window. No matter what, Ben will very likely feature prominently in the Wales senior team matches and fans will be anticipating his ability to excite them, as he did last season. Just before going to print came the news of the loan agreement. It seems a perfect fit for everybody. More to come in the weeks ahead.

    Seven young guns who will surely be important in determining how the future fortunes of the Wales senior team develops. It certainly places Ryan Giggs in a stronger position than his predecessors, as they started their tenure as Wales team managers. A talented, experienced group of players forming the basis of the team and an exciting number of youngsters that are ready to bolster the strength of the squad further as required. How much better of a team we can expect over the next few years only time will tell, but the prospect of it being something special is certainly one that I feel has a realistic chance to become fact. Undoubtedly, I am jumping the gun by making a statement in such fashion. Things have looked promising in the past and have for the most part not ended in producing, this time I do feel that there is good reason to be very optimistic. It is not a small window of opportunity that I am forecasting, but the beginning of what may be an exciting few years for the Wales football team. It is the fruition of a process that has been developing over many years and so tribute needs to be given to those who perceived it, refined it and continued to carry it forward to the point we are at present. It could well be that when this present group of young men are well established, others will be following in their footsteps in climbing that ladder of success. That is what it does seem to be in my estimation and I guess that I have to offer an apology in advance if my enthusiastic narrative creates a disappointing consequence in the future.

    A high amount of very deserved praise heaped upon these young men. It certainly has been earned, as it takes a good deal of determination and dedication as well as talent to reach the heights they have achieved. I am sure that they have been mentored to realize that in many ways the hard work has only just begun. Much more diligent effort will be required if they are to maintain their position of outperforming the vast majority of their peers. Doing so will garner the admiration and adulation of Wales fans as well as many others.

    [photo embedded from thisisanfield.com]

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    Posted: Wednesday 1st August 2018
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