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        Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 17 Dec 21 : 08:00   refresh for updates

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

    Scott Butler (Swansea City) born 2002, Defender.
    As a schoolboy, Scott was affiliated with Wrexham’s academy teams and was recruited by Swansea to join their scholar programme for the start of the 2019/20 season. He quickly adjusted to the demands of U-18 football and played in all but two of the Swansea team’s games in what eventually became an abbreviated season. He was also given an introduction to the quality of opponents in U-23 football with one start and a couple of substitute appearances for that team. Last season, as he moved into his second as a scholar, was certainly one that kept Scott busy in terms of games played. He made appearances in roughly two-thirds of the U-18 team games, all but one as a starter, along with the same proportion of instances in U-23 games, all but five as a starter and totaling thirty-six between the two sides. There is no doubt that the coaches were confident he could manage the physical demands placed upon him with those number of games but also the quality of his performances as he stepped up into the higher level of development football. Unsurprisingly, the club retained his services beyond his time as a youth player and this season he has played in all but a couple of the U-23 team games. Of course, this next statement is purely an opinion that I have, but I do feel that Scott is ready to be challenged with a test of his ability in first team football circumstances. Management at the club are undoubtedly monitoring all such issues and Scott might be loaned out at some point. The cancellation of all youth international tournaments last season resulted in Wales not being represented at U-19 level football. Had it not been the case, Scott would have been a very strong candidate for selection.

    Owen Hesketh (Wolverhampton Wanderers) born 2002, Midfielder.
    Injury absences during the time period may have had a contributory effect on Manchester City’s management decision not to extend his time affiliated with the club beyond that in which he was a member of their academy during his schoolboy years. Impressed with his quality, Wolves signed him on scholar terms in the summer of 2019. I cannot specify whether it was injury related or not why Owen did not play for the club’s U-18 team in the first half of the 2019/20 season and he only appeared in four games prior to its early termination. He began last season playing for the U-18’s but the coaching staff quickly decided that his progress would be best facilitated by moving him to play for the U-23’s, doing so for the entire second half of the season. The club also signed him on a professional contract midway through last season and he has again played regularly for the U-23 team this season. The next step for him now is to show he is a capable performer in first team football circumstances when he gets an opportunity. Wolves seem to favour allowing some of their young players to be placed on loan assignments and Owen may soon become a candidate for such an arrangement. There has been no opportunity for Owen to represent Wales in recent season with restrictions limiting international play. He previously played for the nation in various levels of schoolboy internationals including being a member of the 2017/18 Victory Shield squad. The following season he was selected for the U-17’s that participated in the European qualification group games.

    Joe Low (Bristol City) born 2002, Defender.
    An indication of how highly Bristol City’s management team regarded Joe’s potential to be beneficial in first team circumstances was expressed by gaining his signature on a long term contract at the completion of his time as a scholar. Joe moved from being an academy player at the club to join the scholar ranks at the start of the 2018/19 season and during his two years in that capacity not only played in games for the U-18 team but did so for the U-23’s as well. The club have also provided opportunities for him to develop his skills by exposing him to the demands of first team football. In previous seasons he has gained experience through a number of short term loans at relatively local non-league clubs. National League club Eastleigh secured his services on loan at the start of this season, and he gained more first team experience playing regularly for them until the arrangement was terminated when his parent club instigated a recall early last month. Joe has not had any first team involvement with the Robins up to this point but that may change if their reasoning for his return was to become a part of the squad. Joe’s international career began with selection for the 2017/18 Wales U-17 team and in the following season he was a member of the U-19 squad that competed in the European preliminary qualification matches.

    David Robson (Hull City) born 2002, Goalkeeper.

    An academy player in Scotland, Hull City successfully negotiated with his, at that time, affiliated club Hearts, for his transfer to join the Humberside club as a scholar in 2018. David played regular games for the U-18 team as well as having involvement with U-23 game squads and did well enough for the club to offer him full professional terms in 2020. He has been a member of their U-23 squad since that time building up experience playing for that team. It is a situation where the club have other competent young goalkeepers and so they have a preference of having them share match time duties to develop their skills. David has not played for the first team but did have two occasions on the bench last season in Papa John’s Trophy games. Good performances representing Wales in various levels of schoolboy football was most likely a contributory factor in Hull’s decision to pursue his addition to their playing staff. He then added to his cap collection when playing for the U-17 team after joining them. David would have almost certainly been selected for U-19 duty last season but for the circumstances that required the cancellation of competitive matches.

    This week’s contribution will be my final effort for 2021 as I will take a break over the festive season and have the next issue available for the first week of January. I am therefore extending my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you.

    page posted  Fri, 17 Dec 21 : 08:00 :
    refresh for updates

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]

    Posted: Friday 17th December 2021
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