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        Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Mon, 18 Octt 21 : 08:45 refresh for updates

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

    Ryan Astley (Everton) born 2001, Defender.
    Starting as a youngster with Everton, Ryan has seemingly ticked all but one of the boxes as he has progressed through the development system at the club. Initially playing a few times for the U-18 team as a schoolboy, he continued playing for them after moving into a scholar status at the start of the 2018/19 season. During that time however, he played with a greater frequency for the U-23 team. The coaching staff deemed him more than capable of holding his own at that level even though comparatively, he was much younger than his opponents in those first couple of seasons. He has gained numerous plaudits about the quality of his performances and has been a constant selection for the side. As one evaluates the resume he possesses in his development football career, it is somewhat surprising that the box not yet ticked for him, is that of making his first team debut for the Toffees. He did get named on the bench for one league game last season. It is in part understandable, given that the club has numerous experienced defenders in the first team squad as well as the immense difference in quality between development and Premier League football. Ryan’s next step is to establish himself in first team football and one means of doing so would be as a loan player, it may be an option considered by management. It is not only at club level that Ryan has caught the eye of many with his performances, having also done so at international level for Wales. He is presently a member of the U-21 squad, having often captained Wales teams previously as a schoolboy and then at U-17 and U-19 levels. Unfortunately, an illness prevented him from playing for the U-21 team during this month’s international break.

    Isaak Davies (Cardiff City) born 2001, Forward.
    Initially playing for the Cardiff U-18 team as a fourteen year old, Isaak played more than thirty times for them whilst affiliated to the club as a schoolboy. Moving on to become a scholar at the start of the 2018/19 season, unavailability dealing with injuries and the early conclusion of developmental football in 2020 restricted his appearance tally, only roughly doubling it over those next two campaigns. A consistent and regular scorer in youth football, he signed a professional contract in 2020 and has been a member of the U-23 squad since that time. He continued to do well at that level and was one of the young players that caught the eye of the new manager when he was appointed approximately midway through last season. He made enough of an impression to create a belief that he warranted an opportunity with the first team. It was very much the intention for it to happen when Cardiff played their last few games at the end of the season but unfortunately for Isaak he was unavailable for selection at that time. It does seem that the intent continues, but as yet it has not materialized, as the manager tries to integrate the promising youngsters at the club into the first team plans. Isaak has also been a player continually selected by the Wales coaching staff as the years have gone by, playing for the schoolboy, U-17 and U-19 teams in previous seasons.  He is now a member of the U-21 squad.

    Edward Jones (Stoke City ¿" on loan at Hartlepool United) born 2001, Defender.

    After being an associated schoolboy with Everton for a number of seasons, Eddy signed with Bury to become a scholar at their club. The demise of the club one season after joining them created the need for him to find another club and Stoke offered him the opportunity to complete his time as a scholar with them. He accepted and since that point it has been a mutually beneficial experience for both himself and the club. Management at the club were sufficiently pleased with his performances for the U-18 team to offer him professional terms and become a member of their U-23 squad for the start of last season. The quality of Eddy’s play as he transitioned to U-23 football earned him the opportunity to be involved in first team training sessions and a place on the bench for the final four games of last season’s Championship programme. Although he has not made his first team debut for the Potters, he was again on the bench for this season’s first round Carabao Cup match and the decision was then made to allow him to join Hartlepool on loan. He has already benefitted from the move, making his debut at League 2 level and in fact gaining a good amount of praise for how well he performed in the two games he has played. His time there was interrupted by his selection for the Wales U-21 squad and he will now be hoping to reclaim his place in the team, building on the experience gained already. Eddy played for the Wales schoolboy teams at both U-15 and U-16 levels and in the 2016/17 season was a member of the U-17 squad that competed in the European Championship qualification matches. He did miss out during his time of eligibility as an U-19, but as mentioned he has returned to national representation duties with the U-21’s.

    Sam Pearson (Bristol City) born 2001, Forward.
    An appearance on the bench for City’s first team in a third round FA Cup tie as a first year scholar at the club, certainly prompted a great deal of interest. Although there were some extenuating circumstances creating the need for his inclusion in the squad, opinion in regard to how well he was performing for the U-18 team indicated that it was merited, even with the proviso that the main intent was as a learning experience as well as a reward. Sam has continued to progress toward further first team involvement and made the breakthrough last season with a handful of appearances along with many other occasions where he remained on the bench. It has been a little different so far this season and he has not been able to have any further inclusions in a matchday squad. He is undoubtedly working hard to rectify the situation and it is somewhat of an example of the difficulty that young players need to overcome as they attempt to displace more experienced and physically more mature first team squad members. Sam has exhibited enough quality to suggest that it is only a temporary period in his quest to feature regularly in first team football. His first experience in international football occurred when representing Wales at U-19 level. He was selected as a member of the 2017/18 Wales U-17 squad, but an injury prevented him from being available for the games. He has however collected an amount of caps well into double figures, with many received as an U-19 and then more recently added to with the U-21’s.

    page posted  Mon, 18 Oct  21 : 08:45 : refresh for updates

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]

    Posted: Monday 18th October 2021
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