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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Michael Ellery (Sheffield Wednesday)
    A couple of appearances in the late part of last season gave Michael an introduction to U-18 football with the Owls. This season he has played in all but one of the team's games and obviously been a big contributor to what has been a very successful season for them. Next season, he will not only be intending to continue his good form for the U-18's but also for some consideration for involvement in U-23 games, as he moves toward the completion of his scholar status during his second year of eligibility. Such a scenario would also provide an impetus for further national representative selection having already played for Wales as a schoolboy as well as at U-17 level.

    Rhys Hughes (Everton)
    Rhys will be another who will be very much under scrutiny as the Wales coaching staff contemplate who will be included in next season's national U-19 squad. The Everton U-18 team is another which has had plenty of successful outcomes this season and Rhys been a regular selection for the team throughout that time. Undoubtedly, he will be pleased with how his first year as a scholar has progressed at the Toffees academy and will want to build further on that as he continues into his second and final year as a youth player next season. Hopefully, he will be able to negotiate that time in a positive manner, enhancing his chance of having an offer of a professional contract and extend his time of employment at the club.

    Niall Huggins (Leeds United)

    The Leeds U-18 team were only prevented from gaining the top spot in their league table by the afore mentioned Sheffield Wednesday U-18's, the margin of success being only achieved on goal difference. Niall was certainly a big part of the reason for them having done so well, as he scored some important goals to secure points and was top scorer for the team. He will be aiming to add further to his total as the team now move on to the end of season play-offs. Rewarded for his good form with a call up to join up with the Wales U-21 squad that gathered for a training camp a month or so ago, Niall will be hoping that he impressed well enough at that time and thereby receive another selection for the squad that will play a couple of friendly matches in June as part of the preparation for the European U-21 qualification games that will be held next season.

    Dan Malone (Stoke City)

    First year scholar Dan continued his association with Stoke as he progressed into a full- time football career this season. After a brief introduction to U-18 football when still a schoolboy last season, he has become an important part of the Stoke U-18 team and appeared in almost all of their matches as the season has moved along. Undoubtedly, his aim will be to build further on these achievements next season and indications seem to suggest that will be a strong possibility. He is already at the stage where involvement with the U-23 squad has been considered and an increasing amount of exposure to this level of football in the coming months will surely be a sign that Dan's career is in a very positive progression. Already a recipient of caps at schoolboy and U-17 level, Dan will now be a challenger for inclusion in the next Wales U-19 squad and then quite possibly follow those who have represented the nation at all the intermediate stages as well as senior football.

    George Rounsfell (Newcastle United)
    A late birthdate in 2001 meant that George had to wait until the summer of 2018 before signing on as a scholar at Newcastle. Although only making one appearance for the U-18 team the previous season, he has been a regular in the team for this one, his name not featured in only a couple of games the team has played. He will now move into his second year of scholarship as one of the leaders of the U-18 team and will become a stronger candidate to feature in the club's U-23 team after already been given a couple of occasions on the bench for them. Another who will also be pushing hard for inclusion in games for the Wales U-19 team amongst what seems will be a very strong group of potential candidates.

    Tivonge Rushesha (Swansea City)

    It has certainly been an impressive first season as part of the Swansea U-18 squad for Tivonge, as he has played in a large majority of the games they have competed in this season. Not only that, he has also appeared in a game for the U-23 team and so the coaching staff must highly regard the quality of his ability. The success that he is experiencing so far, seems to be on a par with that of players who can be fast tracked toward the possibility of first team football at a young age. Along with that statement, some amount of caution regarding those expectations needs expressing as well. Even with an abundance of talent, all of those who eventually develop a good career in football must have a strength of character to exhibit the determination and dedication to continue refining the skills possessed. Hopefully, Tivonge can be successful, as there will be new demands and challenges that must be overcome as the path towards the intended goal is negotiated. As with all of those mentioned in pursuit of their dreams of reaching a recognized status on the football field, I am sure you join me in wishing the best, along with that amount of good fortune we all need to enjoy life.

    [photo embedded from Twitter

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    Posted: Monday 29th April 2019
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