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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    As the time moves along and we are now well into the spring of 2019, the end of the present season is fast approaching. In terms of league play, very few games remain, although those that do will be in some cases, very important. The international calendar is still some weeks from completion with Euro qualification matches remaining to be contested in early June. The Wales senior team will continue their quest, playing away games against Croatia and Hungary teams eager to be victorious on their home turf. Although I would not necessarily regard it as essential, any points gained from those two matches could prove to be extremely valuable towards the total that will be needed for the qualification campaign to be successfully negotiated.

    The above mentioned, are the only competitive games that Wales international teams will be involved in, but a couple of friendly fixtures have also been arranged for the U-21 team and so they will also be playing games in June. The next version of the European U-21 national team competition begins at the start of next season and the games have been arranged as the next part of the preparation following the training camp that was conducted a few weeks ago. A training camp in which candidates eligible for the U-19 national squad that will have competitive matches next season is being attended at present. The younger age groups have also played friendly games recently and so it is a busy time for all phases of the Wales national team groups.

    Nathan Broadhead (Everton)

    Although this season has been interrupted at times with some injury issues, I think that it can be considered a reasonably successful one for Nathan. Quite a good amount of praise has been given to him at various times for his contribution to the Everton U-23 team during what has been a period when they have ended up as champions of their league. The next step is of course first team football and it does seem that he is very capable of achieving that goal. Whether he can impress enough to be included in the first team squad in the near term will probably be decided during pre-season preparations that will take place in the summer months. If not, a loan arrangement could be a means of gaining valuable experience. There would likely be plenty of interest in securing his industrious quality and good goal scoring record if this was the case.

    Rhys Norrington-Davies (Sheffield United on loan at Barrow)
    A very successful loan period at Barrow has just come to an end for Rhys as the team completed its season with a comfortable mid table position in the National League. Having spent the major portion of the season with them he gained a very good amount of first team experience as a regular member of the team. He not only acquitted himself well to the physical demands but also exhibited impressive quality in a league containing many highly experienced players. Sheffield United have achieved promotion, thus moving on into the Premier League and so it is wiser to wait and see what transpires for Rhys rather than speculate.

    Regan Poole (Manchester United on loan at Newport County)
    Newport County have certainly benefitted in having Regan return to the club during the loan period for the second half of the season. Praised for adding to the defensive solidarity, his contribution has helped the team enjoy a generally very successful last few months. The key for him personally will now be to show competency at higher levels of competition in order to progress his career positively. At present a decision at Old Trafford as to whether they extend his time with United for a further year through a club option is awaited. Ideally, a challenge for Regan to perform adequately in Championship matches would be circumstances welcomed in the months ahead.

    It will once again be a transition time for the U-21 team as quite a few of those who played last season have completed their eligibility at that level. A reasonable number who have an amount of experience from previous U-21 squad appearances remain available and from this the three players mentioned will provide an important part of the core strength for the new campaign. Additional candidates who have been making an impressive progression in their careers over the last season will also be strong challengers for upcoming selection. Seemingly, enough quality is available to provide competitive teams as they attempt qualification for the finals for their age group over the next season and a half or so. The finals of the competition about to be completed will be contested in the next few weeks. Germany and Belgium are amongst those that have qualified. They are both in the Wales group that starts next season and so formidable opposition lies ahead. As for Wales, they will have to transition with a new group of players, but historical record tells us that they usually manage to retain a high quality at this level. It does provide a very good test for the Wales team and may be an indication if some of the young players could be important for the senior team in the years ahead.

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    Posted: Thursday 9th May 2019
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