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    Young Guns Blog index



    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Brandon Cooper (Swansea City)
    This season, Brandon has been predominantly performing as a defensive lynchpin in the Swansea U-18s, captaining the team in what has largely been a satisfying set of results against very good opposition. Over the last few weeks he has also experienced increasing opportunities with the clubs U-23 team as he transitions toward getting familiar with the challenges playing in this older age-group produces. A good number of people who have witnessed his play over the years have expressed an opinion of expectancy to succeed at a high level in the game. Upon reaching his 18th birthday as has recently occurred, his status as a scholar reaches completion at this seasons end and so U-23 football is where he will have to impress to ensure the progress toward that suggested achievement comes to fruition. I have no reason to dispute what has been forecasted for Brandon, in fact in terms of statistics, he is one that I have followed with an optimistic outlook from his time as being regarded as a very talented schoolboy international. Though there is continuous attrition throughout the age-groups as boys and young men try to eventually become full time professional footballers, the rate does peak at the juncture of the transition from youth involvement. Hopefully, in time, we will be able to look back, satisfyingly realizing that Brandon possessed all the qualities needed to become a senior Welsh international player.

    Issac Davies and Sion Spence (Cardiff City)
    Two players whose goal scoring ability has contributed over half of the total that the U-18s at Cardiff have netted to this point in the season. It is of little surprise that with an average age below that of their competitors, that results have been somewhat inconsistent. Cardiffs developmental policy is one of challenging their young players as soon as thought viable which contributes to the presence of many first-year scholars in the side. Sion is in fact one of them and so will continue to have eligibility for youth play next season. Classified as a midfielder, he must however play in a very attacking role when doing so, as his goals per game ratio is one that any striker would be proud of, even those with a good reputation for finding the net on a regular basis. Issac has a September birthdate, this preventing him from joining the scholar ranks until this coming summer, the positive side of this meaning that he will have 2 more seasons as a youth, should he need to continue honing his game at that level of play. Though not as prolific as Sion has been this season, all things considered, he has been an important contributor to the fortunes of the Cardiff youth team as well.

    Billy Sass-Davies (Crewe Alexandra)
    This season, Billy has featured regularly for the clubs U-23 team and lately has been gaining experience in first team football in the Northern Premier League. Colwyn Bay acquired his services through a loan agreement with Crewe in order to try and boost their chances of outperforming their rivals for an end of season spot in the play-off promotion matches. It will also be monitored by the Crewe management as they evaluate whether Billy moves on to a professional contract with them when his time as a scholar expires at the end of the season. Bays management must be pleased to have negotiated the temporary assignment, as though they were pleased for him on a personal basis, they did express a disappointment that his selection for Wales U-19 duty will mean a period when he is unavailable for their matches.

    Neco Williams (Liverpool)
    Having played regularly for Liverpools U-18 team during the second half of last season, injury and the subsequent recovery period created an absence from the team for the entire first half of this one. A return to full fitness by the turn of the year signaled his return to the team but after only being involved in a few matches, coaches and management decided a need for a sterner challenge to facilitate his progress resulting in his elevation to U-19 and U-23 team play. Quite a resume of achievement for him in view that he only completed his schoolboy designation last year, thus becoming eligible to join the Liverpool intake of scholars prior to the start of this season. Liverpool are a club, by no means averse to the rapid progression of young players in their developmental teams but it is generally reserved for those of the highest quality, many of whom then get some exposure to first team football at an early age.  If Neco becomes another example of this policy, it will indicate an increasing strength in depth of the Wales international teams.
    All of these young men under scrutiny this week are members of the Wales U-19 squad travelling to Croatia where they will almost certainly need high quality performances if positive outcomes in their friendly fixtures are to be attained. As fans, we will be hoping that they can all continue along the path to reach full time professional status and play at a high enough level of football to gain senior international honours. As I am sure they are aware, it will not only require the quality of talent they obviously possess but also a determined and dedicated work ethic to pursue a continual improvement of those attributes. A persevering attitude will almost certainly be another key need as they can only reach such an intended goal by outperforming the vast majority of their peer group who have the exact same ambition. Wishing them the best of fortune in the quest for stardom.

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    Posted: Wednesday 21st March 2018
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