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    Young guns blog update


    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    As the anticipation of the starting new season magnifies with it drawing ever closer, I will try to provide some amount of insight into what may transpire as it progresses. My starting point for this sort of proclamation is to give an opinion as to who may be the most prominent players of interest for the followers of the fortunes of the Welsh international football over the coming months. This week I will focus on the group who fall into the '96 and '97 birth years and will be the most senior players who have eligibility for selection for the Wales U-21 squad. With the next qualification process for the European U-21 Championship 2019 finals starting early in the season, it is expected that a major proportion of the squad will come from this group of players.

    Aron Davies (Fulham)
    Aron was selected for the Wales squad that played in the Toulon tournament but had to withdraw due to an injury. He has been a regular member of initially the U-18's and then the U-23 team at the club after his transfer there from Bristol City 3 seasons ago. It is undoubtedly an important season ahead for him, as he will be anxious to progress further and get at the least some amount of first team football experience as soon as possible. Whether it will be through a loan or by forcing his way into the first team picture at Craven Cottage is very much a question that is difficult to even guess an answer for it. Presently involved with the U-23's in the pre-season preparation, the latter proposition would seem the less likely outcome but sometimes things can change quite remarkably in football situations and we will have to wait and see how it all evolves.

    Keston Davies (Swansea City on loan at Yeovil)
    This, is also an important season for Keston as he prepares to meet the challenge of acquiring as much first team football experience as possible. Having generally excelled in not only his central defensive capacity but also as captain of the Swansea youth and U-23 teams, the loan arrangement is a next step in the demands on his talent. If he can emulate what was achieved by some of his predecessors in this type of exchange between the clubs, everyone will be very pleased with the outcome. He does have some experience on what will be necessary for him to succeed as he competed against Football League teams during Swansea's impressive showing in last season's EFL Trophy tournament.

    Owen Evans (Wigan Athletic)
    Since experiencing a very successful loan period in the Welsh Premier during the first half of last season, Owen has gone on to establish himself in the Latics first team squad and it would seem that he is now very much regarded as the second choice keeper at the club. This should give him the opportunity to amass some competitive game time when squad rotation is deemed appropriate by the manager, thereby further enhancing his football education. Strong consideration for the Wales U-21 squad would be another expectation that could occur in the new season as he continues to progress at the club since they acquired his services after Hereford were relegated from the Football League.

    Cian Harries (Swansea City)
    The recent transfer to South Wales from Coventry is probably one that surprised many but may possibly turn out to be a very successful coup by Swansea. The breakthrough made by Cian into the Coventry first team in the early part of last season certainly had the effect of him gaining many admirers at Premier League level. Though he largely disappeared from the picture as Coventry struggled in League One, a trial period at Liverpool and seemingly an interest from Spurs were indications that there was strong belief in the quality of his talent. His appearances were as a left back in his time as a youth as well as in his first team introduction, a move to a central defensive role seems be what the future holds, he performed quite adequately in that position for the Welsh U-20's and that is where he played in a Liverpool trial match.

    Daniel James (Swansea City on loan at Shrewsbury Town)
    Last season can be used as a reasonably good measuring stick regarding what the future may hold for Daniel. He certainly performed well for the Swansea U-23 team and impressed enough to be included on the bench for the first team for 1 game. He also gained international experience with the Wales U-21 team during the season and the U-20 side in Toulon. Now he has the chance to assist Shrewsbury, gaining valuable first team experience at League One level. The Swansea management will be anxious for him to show that he can comfortably compete and become a viable member of their first team squad sooner rather than later. There does not seem to be a reason why that sort of scenario cannot develop as the season goes along.

    Joe Rodon (Swansea City)
    As briefly mentioned last week, Joe certainly led by example in a central defensive capacity along with captaining the Wales U-20 team during the reasonably successful Toulon tournament. Though it was the culmination of what can be regarded a fairly successful season for him, he will be anxious to take the next step in his career as soon as possible. He will most likely be involved with the Swansea U-23 team and will get some amount of exposure to the demands of more intense football through the club's participation in the EFL Trophy but will be hoping there may be an opportunity for other challenges in such as the EFL Cup. He will need to impress management at the club in order to show he is worthy of consideration, competition for a chance will be fierce as others in his situation, including his new team mate Cian as well as some members of the first team squad will all be vying for a chance to show their ability.

    George Thomas (Coventry City)
    Although out of contract, George is still a Coventry player. With his reputation enhanced during the second half of last season and then beyond that with the Wales U-20's, other clubs are keen to secure his services and so his career is at a bit of impasse at this point. Therefore, it is difficult to make a meaningful comment other than to say that the anticipation of his name featuring in future young gun blogs is highly likely.

    Harry Wilson (Liverpool)
    Having made some good progress last season with an outstanding contribution for the club's U-23 team as well as getting a little first team exposure, it is hoped that a continuance in this upward trend in his career will result. He is another that it is difficult to make a prediction for the coming season as injury has hampered his pre-season preparation. Though it is as far I am aware not of a serious nature, it has prevented him from getting any exposure with the first team squad. With the club intent on strengthening the squad and the strong possibility of adding new purchases to those already installed, competition for first team playing time will be at a premium. With his situation placing him somewhat on the back foot, it will require the dedication and determination he has already exhibited along with all the resolve possible, for him to force his way back into the picture in the short term. It will also be likely that he will be involved with the Wales U-21's rather than the senior squad but that will add another strong player to their squad.

    As the season progresses, there may well be others from this age group that come to the fore, it will be duly noted in future young guns with them rightly being given credit for their achievements. Next week, players from the '98 and '99 birth years will feature.

    Posted: Friday 4th August 2017
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