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        Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 6 Aug 21 : 06:30 : refresh for updates

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

    As another new season get underway, hopefully this 2021/22 version will not be disrupted by the lingering effects of the pandemic. Indications are positive at present, with the anticipated return of fans pleasing not only for them but also the players who appreciate their support, along with the added passion generated in a game environment. Caution will however need to be exhibited. With a number of pre-season games affected by positive covid tests, there will need to be added vigilance along with the observance of protocols, to ensure that the effects are minimized. The Wales senior team certainly believe they benefit when there is a presence of the Red Wall at their games, let us hope that it will be possible in large numbers.

    Unfortunately, most members of the Red Wall had to forgo attending the team’s matches as they competed in the Euro’s and will almost certainly be relishing the opportunity to support the team as they resume the World Cup qualification matches soon after the season begins. This time around, the Euro’s didn’t manage to recreate some of the euphoric scenes of 2016, but getting out of the group stage was a reasonable achievement. The Denmark game was of course a disappointing way to be eliminated but although we have to concede the better team won, the final result was a little unjust. Now our focus moves to the World Cup and the question of whether qualification for the final stages of that tournament can be attained in this latest attempt. In my opinion, it is a possibility. It will be far from easy and certainly worthy of celebration if it comes to fruition. Winning the home game against the Czech Republic in the spring was an important step and so the next one is to maintain that winning streak in the September games. Preparation for the Euro’s was undoubtedly hindered by untimely injury situations along with only sporadic game time for many players over the preceding months. There is enough quality and depth in the squad to accommodate the selection of a competitive team when some players may be unavailable, however, it is very important that such circumstances are as minimal as can be hoped for in the weeks ahead. It will also take some significant contributions from both the younger and experienced members of the team if the long-awaited return of a Wales team to World Cup finals action is to be witnessed in Qatar.

    I do believe that Wales football is in a good place at this time with a potential that it may become better in the years ahead. That will be considered a bold statement by many, and I cannot deny it being a reasonable response to what is my opinion. The evidence I am using for what is an optimistic forecast is undoubtedly sketchy, based on the information I am able to gather along with making what I will call an educated guess. I certainly have no claim of being an expert but having been an avid follower of Welsh football news for quite a long time by now, I do believe I have a little above average knowledge of the subject. In a statistical sense, the number of Welsh players fully employed in professional football has been steadily growing in recent years. This has provided for an unprecedented number who are playing at this level in the game, and it does seem that it is not only an increase in quantity but also in quality. I base my comment about quality largely depending on the written opinions of others, many of whom are experienced and well respected judges of football talent. Verification is also provided by a judgement of better than average progress made by many young players as they develop through their respective club academy systems. What is of course unknown is how well they will adapt to the demands as they attempt to secure a career of good quality first team football. It is an extremely difficult process to succeed as a professional footballer, even fewer are able to do so in the higher echelons of the game.

    Unfortunately, this being so, there are many who suffer disappointment as they fail to reach their ultimate goal. My assessment of the present quantity and quality makes me feel confident that the strength of the senior squad can be maintained in the coming seasons. As Wales fans, we can only be pleased with what the senior team has achieved in recent years, but as those for any club or nation we are always yearning for continuous improvement. Sport always provides surprises and unexpected occurrences and so it is speculative at best, for me to make predictions. Suffice to say that I believe indications suggest we can be hopeful that there be will a good deal more results that please us than not so, as we move into the future.

    The main emphasis of my weekly blog is to chronicle the achievements of Welsh young guns and once again over the coming weeks of the season, I will try and provide some amount of worthwhile reading material. There were numerous first team debuts achieved by some young players over the course of last season indicating that they were progressing successfully in their respective development systems, and we can certainly expect similar circumstances to evolve over the coming months. Involvement of many in first team pre-season preparations are encouraging signs. The national intermediate teams have benefitted from having better players in their squads as they continually amass increased positive results in their respective competitions in recent seasons. It is a possibility that we can anticipate participation in the finals by one of these teams as we look to the future. The prudent policy is of course to involve the best young players on a rapid pathway to senior team involvement whenever appropriate, but enough quality may remain available to make the other teams competitive.

    Last season there were just over two hundred players available for me to mention as I chronicled the young guns. The number will be a bit lower this season as we start a new phase of U-21 eligibility. It means a shorter period, reduced by twelve months, for the category of scholars and young fulltime professionals available for U-21 selection. At present I am aware of about one hundred and seventy players, but I am sure there will be some more, as Neil’s excellent player database will provide some new names just as it did last season.

    page posted :Fri, 6 Aug 21 : 06:30 : refresh for updates

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]

    Posted: Friday 6th August 2021
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