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        Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Sat, 12 Sep 20 :09:00 efresh for updates [ scroll down to post your comments ]

    To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page

    Follow us on twitter : https://twitter.com/dragonsoccerygb

    Robbie Burton (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), born 1999, midfielder
    Robbie seemingly surprised almost everyone, including the Arsenal management team, when he made the decision to move to Zagreb in January 2019. He was doing relatively well at Arsenal at the time and having impressed during pre-season was considered close to getting a first team opportunity. Deciding he needed to experience first team football sooner rather than later, he elected to move from the Gunners. Although it was interrupted soon after, when football was postponed, Robbie has now been able to make that important next step, having proven himself adept enough to become part of the first team squad and getting significant playing minutes at the Croatian club. Although not considered amongst the higher ranked European clubs, they are defending champions of their league and were obviously a good side before Robbie's arrival. It is a good indication of his ability that he has been able to make good progress so soon. He will now want to continue his improvement and become an influential member of the team. Doing so would enhance his prospects of graduating from being a member of the Wales U-21 squad as he is at present and challenging for recognition at senior level.

    Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest), born 2001, midfielder
    Brennan's reflections on last season would probably contain a mixture of excitement as well as some amount of disappointment. Making his first team debut in the first match of the season along with getting some very positive comments from fans who witnessed his performances must have been pleasing for him. The Forest team was amongst the leaders in the Championship league table for the majority of the season, this seemingly creating a reluctance to include him in the team on a regular basis and consequently he only accumulated a few appearances. Having only celebrated his 19th birthday three months ago, time is on his side of course, but I suspect he is intent on experiencing a good deal more first team football over the coming months. It would seem to be in Forest's interest to let him get the maximum amount of first team exposure possible and consider loaning him out if suspicions are that they might not utilize him regularly in their team. His ability to glide past opponents along with an excellent goal scoring record from a midfield position would surely have a plethora of interested clubs if his services were made available. It was probably also an occasion of mixed feelings for Brennan last week, his call up to join the Wales senior squad and spend time training with them was enjoyed, but tempered with a little disappointment of being the odd man out when failing to get named in either of the matchday squads.

    Dylan Levitt (Manchester United on loan at Charlton Athletic), born 2000, midfielder
    After being included in previous Wales squads, Dylan finally had the pleasure of making his debut for the team last week. Considering that his first team experience is minimal, it was certainly a stern test for him, but one that was accomplished in a praiseworthy manner and suggesting his cap collection will continue increasing as the seasons roll on. With a loan arrangement now in place, Dylan can concentrate on gaining valuable first team experience. His aim will be to make an impact at League 1 level and show that his ability is capable enough to succeed at higher levels of football. He has certainly received plenty of accolades in his time at youth and U-23 competition, with many who have watched him willing to offer favourable comparisons to former United stalwart Paul Scholes. Should he come close to matching what was achieved by the "Ginger Prince", United fans and members of the Red Wall will be treated to many pleasurable moments.

    Matthew Smith (Manchester City), born 1999, midfielder
    Matt spent the 2018/19 season on loan at FC Twente where he was a regular in the side that was successful in gaining promotion back to the Dutch Eredivisie at its conclusion. He was in fact credited with being an important contributor for the team and as a result became one of the fan favourites in his time there. It was unfortunate that illness and injury prevented him from building on that experience as he was unable to accumulate much first team minutes when loaned out initially to Queens Park Rangers and then Charlton Athletic. Back to full fitness this season, negotiations for another loan assignment are apparently being conducted, but no news of the possible destination has been forthcoming at this time. It was good to see Matt back on the field for the Wales senior team in their most recent game. He had been a regular feature in the squad and often the team since his debut in May 2018 until the interruptions that occurred last season.

    Ben Woodburn (Liverpool), born 1999, forward
    Ben, of course, became the focus of attention of both Wales and Liverpool fans when making important contributions for both teams during the 2017/18 season. He even drew the ire of some English fans and media, who somehow contrived a scenario that Wales had gained his services in an underhanded manner. Here we are, two seasons on from that time and at a point in Ben's career that certainly was not projected to be likely a couple of years ago. A loan arrangement that did not materialize as anticipated with Sheffield United in 2018/19 and a subsequent series of injuries have effectively put his career in a holding pattern. This season, I am sure Ben will be determined to put that all behind him and make some positive strides in his footballing future. A loan agreement seems the most logical way forward, but I will not speculate any further. What I will add with conviction is that I firmly believe, such is the quality of his abilities, Ben will rebound from the challenging times he has experienced and once again be a player that will thrill and delight fans at club and national level. As I prepare to send this blog on to Neil for publication, the latest information suggests that Ben will spend the season on loan in the Eredivisie. This would seem to be a good option choice if it is confirmed.

    This week, it is five players whose main emphasis for the coming season, will be to build experience by performing on a regular basis in first team football circumstances. It is that next step in expanding their already apparent proficient talent and gaining added physical and mental qualities that will define their careers. Doing so will also provide a means of producing a significant contribution to the Wales senior team in the times ahead, giving it extra momentum in the quest to continue improving standards.

    page posted: Sat, 12 Sep 20 :09:00 refresh for updates [ scroll down to post your comments ]

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ] 

    Posted: Saturday 12th September 2020
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