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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Ashley Baker (Sheffield Wednesday)
    The Owls quickly moved in to sign Ashley once Cardiff decided that he was no longer part of their future plans. He has been a regular member of their U-23 team since joining them in January this year and it was assumed to be an encouraging sign when he was on the bench for the first team when they played the first round tie of the Carabao Cup versus Morecambe. It was of course a much changed side from what is considered their preferred line-up for league matches but even so, it does give some recognition of the coaching staff being at the very least satisfied with his progress in the time he has been at Hillsborough. Hopefully, there will be repeat occasions for Ashley being included in the matchday squad in the coming months.

    Aaron Collins and Ryan Leak (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
    With Wolves investing both in quantity and quality in the purchase of talent to enhance the teams promotion prospects, it will be a tough ask for either of these young men to feature for the first team at the club this season. It is certainly by no means an impossibility, some of the clubs younger talent has been given the opportunity even though expensive recruits have recently joined the ranks at Molineux. They are in competition with other members the U-23 squad to gain recognition, that in itself, considered to contain a strong group of talented players such as themselves. It will be very much a case of them striving to produce the utmost of their ability in their assignments and should any opportunity to be presented to enhance their status be as ready and prepared as possible to grasp that chance with the greatest intensity. Whilst this weeks effort was still in the draft stage, a loan arrangement for Ryan has occurred. For the first half of the season the will be assisting The New Saints in the Welsh Premier. This will give him a differing experience from U-23 games and with TNSs involvement in the Irn-Bru Cup, this may widen that scope somewhat, especially if they can be successful in that quest. There was mention prior to the start of the season that Aaron could be loaned out. Nothing has materialized as yet, though this may change once the loan window opens again in a few days time.

    Jack Evans (Swansea City)
    Jack was one of the many in the Wales U-20 squad considered to have had successful tournament appearances in Toulon and unsurprisingly was selected for the U-21 squad for its first 2 games of this season. A very brief time on the field as a late substitute in the first game was followed by an appearance for the last half hour in the second game. Jacks ability is not so much questioned by those facts, it is a reflection on the strength of the squad being superior by some margin in comparison with most past ones. He is now early part of his second season as a member of the Swansea U-23 squad and has featured in all the matches the team has played to this point. Though he did play for the team a few times when still on scholar terms at the club, he was also only used on an intermittent basis last season. It is very good to see that he seems to have established himself as likely to receive quite a bit more playing time this season as the team will be faced with even stronger opposition, having been promoted after their very successful last campaign.

    Having been able to watch a live feed of the U-21s game against Switzerland, I will give an opinion on what I observed. Firstly, it was an excellent result, one I have to admit was very much an unexpected one by me.  This was achieved by producing a very good performance against good opposition. There was some mention prior to the game that Switzerland had injury concerns in regard to their U-21 squad, this I have no means of giving an evaluation of how much it affected their team if correct. What I will say is that I was impressed enough with the quality of the team that played and if that was below par in what they might have been able to select, there would have to be some high quality players missing. It may well be the case, the senior Swiss side is very good these days and the team seems to be on a continual path to strengthening recently. If I say that about the opposition and they were 3 goals deficient to the Wales team, then I must have complimentary things to say about our young men. In short, I do. I would foremostly describe the Welsh performance as resilient, with this being used as an additive compliment to the quality of their talent without which they could not have been competitive in the match. The Swiss were in general bigger and stronger than the Welsh and tried in every way to use it to their advantage. To be able to negate this along with an abundance of talent that I also witnessed, I believe there is no better way to describe it and speaks volumes about the overall performance. I will say the win was thoroughly deserved, the 3 goal margin slightly flattering and there was much talent on display that should have a decent chance of progressing toward senior selection. Judging them against the highest quality needed for such achievement, I would add that improvement is necessary but am confident it is within reach for many with continued dedication to improving their skills. Even in the terms of U-21 football, it is a very young team and just physical improvement alone has not reached its peak. I was very impressed with what I viewed. The result in the second game was maybe as would be expected against a strong and experienced Portuguese team. I was not able to find a feed and so did not see the game making me unable to provide any further comment. Maybe to only lose 2-0 was a positive outcome. Though these first 2 games were projected to be their most difficult ones, there are also some good tests to come. Judging from these 2 results, there should be some more victories to be celebrated.

    We shall see what happens.

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    Posted: Wednesday 6th September 2017
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