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        Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 5 Feb 21 : 07:45 refresh for updates [ scroll down to post your comments ]

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

    Jac Clay (Cardiff City) born 2003, Defender.
    Central defender Jac has established himself as a regular starting member of the Cardiff U-18 side this season. In his first year as a scholar with the club, he has played in almost all of the games the team has played after having been given an introduction to the demand levels of the competition by playing in a few games last season. He will now want to build on the experience he is gaining and show that he can excel against his opponents, giving the coaches confidence in his capability of producing good performances against tougher opposition. Over the years, Jac was involved with Wales teams at schoolboy levels and last season was called up to join the Wales team that played in the European U-17 qualifying games. He helped the team gain progress into the elite round which was eventually cancelled.

    Jacob Edwards (Swansea City) born 2003, Defender.
    A second year scholar with the Swans this season, Jacob played in more than half of the games the U-18 team played last season and is quite possibly a regular in the team this season. He has played in two of the only three games I have been able to locate details of the team roster. The team has played a number of additional games, but details are unfortunately sparse. What I can say about Jacob is that he has amassed a notable collection of Wales caps in his relatively brief football career to this point. Involved with Wales schoolboy teams throughout his time in that status, he was also selected for the U-17 squads that were involved in games last season. In all of the Wales squads that I have seen where a club affiliation was mentioned, Jacob has been linked with Swansea and this includes the Victory Shield schoolboy matches. On the Swansea website, his biography states that Jacob joined Swansea from Tranmere Rovers in the 2018/19 season and so most of his schoolboy development must have occurred when associated with the Wirral club.

    Ryan Hillier (Newport County) born 2003, Forward.

    Ryan is in his second year as a scholar at Newport and has played regularly for the club’s U-18 team over the two seasons. He has also probably played in games for the older development team as well, although I have not seen any details to confirm it. It is not an unreasonable assumption though, as his quality has been good enough for him to have played for Newport’s team that participated in EFL Trophy matches. He has appeared in a total of six of those games, three last season and three in this one. He has come off the bench in all of the matches but has accumulated a considerable amount of playing time between them and did get on the score sheet in one game. He is part of quite a sizeable and talented second year group of scholars at Rodney Parade and decisions will need to be forthcoming by the management team about their futures as this season draws to a close. Ryan will certainly be hoping that he has been able to make a favourable enough impression to become part of the playing staff at the club next season.

    Ryan Howley (Coventry City) born 2003, Midfielder.
    Regular appearances as a first year scholar for the Coventry U-18 team this season has not been a new experience for Ryan, as he did similarly last season when on associated schoolboy terms with the club. It is an incomplete record that I have been able to view but his name has appeared in most of the team sheets I have seen, making me confident in the accuracy of the previous sentence. It does indicate that the coaching staff have a very positive opinion of the quality of his talent, one that is reenforced in a news item released in November that the club had signed Ryan on a professional contract at that time. By doing so, it expresses a belief from management that Ryan can become an important player for the Coventry first team in the future and I am sure his aim is to continually improve his capability in the development football programme and make the progression toward first team involvement as soon as he can. In the news item, it also mentioned that Ryan had played for the Wales schoolboy team, but unfortunately, I cannot add any more specific information to that statement.

    Fin Stevens (Brentford) born 2003, Defender.
    Fin joined Brentford prior to the start of the season, after being noticed by their scouting staff whilst playing in non-league football. He signed with them to become a member of their Brentford B team squad, a somewhat unique and often very successful development programme they employ to create a pathway to supplement their first team squad. Prior to joining Brentford, Fin had spent some years in the Arsenal academy system before being allowed to leave and he consequently joined Worthing. Last season, he quickly impressed and gained a place in the first team, establishing himself as a standout performer, alerting the interest of his present club. Making an early impression is seemingly a trend, as he managed a spot on the bench for a start of the season EFL Cup tie. It was a wait of a few weeks before his next first team match involvement, on the bench for the fourth round EFL Cup game, he made his debut when introduced for the last ten minutes or so. A month later, in early November he was on the bench for a league match and has remained in that capacity for all but one game since. He has started and played the whole of two FA Cup games and so I am sure the manager has confidence to use him in a league match when required. Fin has been confirmed as eligible to represent Wales should he choose to do so. England will undoubtedly also have a desire for him to remain eligible for them and so until such a time as he decides, we will have to wait for the answer. The Wales coaching staff would certainly be pleased if his decision favours them and of course as fans it would delight us as well. The national policy is to offer an opportunity, welcoming them into the fold if their inclination is an affinity for their Welsh heritage.

    Jay Williams (Fulham) born 2003, Defender.
    Jay played for the Wales schoolboy team when he was an academy affiliate with Newport County. Fulham then negotiated with the Exiles for him to join their scholar programme at the start of last season. He played a few times for their U-18 team and was also a member of the Wales U-17 squads that did well last season. This season there has been no mention of Jay in any Fulham U-18 matchday line-ups. Unfortunately, I have no information to explain to you as to why this is so. Perhaps someone may be able to enlighten us as to whether it is an injury situation or otherwise and any news received can be used for an update in a future issue.

    page posted: Fri, 5 Feb 21 : 07:45 refresh for updates [ scroll down to post your comments ]

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]

    Posted: Friday 5th February 2021
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