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To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page
Joe Budd (Bristol Rovers) born 2002, Midfielder. The coaching staff at Rovers determined at the start of this season that although Joe was a second year scholar at the club, he would be primarily assigned to the U-23 squad with appearances for the U-18 team occurring as required. He had obviously demonstrated to them last season that he was very competent at U-18 level of play and they believed that his progress could be best facilitated by competing against potentially tougher opponents. I cannot add any further to this as I have not been able to locate any U-23 team match reports and can only say that the team is doing reasonably well in a mid table position at present. A speculative comment is that Joe may have been assigned to gain some first team experience with a loan at a local non league club in different circumstances to those that are present this season. With the disruption of non league football caused by the covid virus situation seemingly not likely to improve for the remainder of the season, it does not seem an option. Joe played for the Wales U-17 team during the 2018/19 season, initially appearing in the Telki Cup preparation matches at the start of the season and then as a member of the squad that played in that season’s European U-17 qualification matches.
Morgan Clarke (Swansea City) born 2002, Midfielder. After playing a few times for the Swansea U-18 team as a schoolboy in the 2018/19 season, Morgan established himself as a regular member of the side last season. He played in almost all of the games that were played prior to early suspension of the season during his first year as a scholar with the Liberty Stadium club. He has played for the U-18 team this season but has also played in many of the games the U-23 team has played, after having been given a brief introduction to that level of play with a couple of substitute appearances last season. Morgan is another youngster who has impressed enough to be deemed ready to be tested against stronger opposition than confronted in youth team football and his presence in the team at the frequency he has been used, suggests that the coaches believe it is benefitting his progress for him to do so. Before everything changed in the spring of 2020, Wales officials were planning for a national U-18 team to face competition in the late season. Had there been such a squad selected, Morgan would surely have been a strong candidate for inclusion.
Oliver Denham (Cardiff City) born 2002, Defender. A Wales schoolboy international, playing in the 2017 Victory Shield tournament was followed by two years as a scholar with Manchester United before Oliver joined Cardiff at the start of this season. During his time at United, particularly so in his time as a scholar with them, injuries severely limited his appearances for the club’s U-18 team. He had impressed well enough as a schoolboy and then scholar, for United to believe he was a prospective candidate for their U-23 squad. With the season having to end early in the last one, they offered to extend his scholar contract for a period in this one as they pondered their final decision. At the start of the season, Cardiff expressed an interest in Oliver and the clubs agreed for him to spend a short trial period in South Wales. It proved a success and so he signed with the Bluebirds as a member of their U-23 squad. The success is further confirmed by him having been a constant in the team since he joined them and will want to excel at the development level as a push toward first team possibilities. His injuries also prevented him from having an opportunity to represent Wales at U-17 level as he had to withdraw from the squad selected for the European Championship qualification games for the age grade in the 2018/19 season.
Owen Hesketh (Wolverhampton Wanderers) born 2002, Midfielder. An academy member at Manchester City in his schoolboy days, Owen joined Wolves at the start of last season to begin his time as a scholar at the club. As he settled at the club, he did not play for the U-18 team in the first half of the season, but then played quite a few games in the short time that was available in the second half. This season he has played in all of their games and has also been given some exposure to the demands of U-23 football making appearances in a couple of games. It may well be that as the season progresses, he will be increasingly involved with the U-23 team as decisions regarding the future will be required. In his time at Manchester City, he played for Wales teams on a good number of occasions and would have added more caps to his collection had he not been unavailable to attend a couple of squads he had been selected for. He did play in the Victory shield competition as well as for the national U-17 team in European Championship qualification matches.
Harvey Rew (Portsmouth) born 2002, Defender. Growing up in the local area, Harvey became an associated schoolboy player at Portsmouth before starting his time as a scholar with the club in the summer of 2019. In the October of that year, a few days after his seventeenth birthday the club signed him on a professional contract, giving an indication of the high regard their management team had for the quality of his talent. A confirmation of this opinion came soon after, as he made his first team debut playing in an EFL Trophy match. Harvey has played for the U-18 team over the last two seasons but has also made appearances for their older development side as well. He has also made a further two first team appearances in EFL Trophy games this season as the coaching staff prepare him for the next step in his career. Although primarily a left side defender, he has also been utilized in a midfield role at times. Whilst still in a schoolboy status, he played for the Wales team in the 2018/19 U-17 European Championship qualifiers after having previously played for teams in U-16 and U-17 preparatory matches.
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