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    Young Guns Blog index



    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Robbie Burton (Arsenal)
    It has been something of a hectic few days for Robbie as he played in the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup for his club's U-18 team and then had to make haste to join up with the Wales U-21 squad prior to their travel to Bosnia. Though he remained on the bench for their match, his first call up continues his participation in national squads moving up through schoolboy, U-17 and U-19 levels. He will continue in a travelling mode as his club team takes part in the Dallas Cup and then the focus will be to secure a win in their home leg of the Youth Cup semi-final and move on to an opportunity to win the trophy. Having celebrated his 18th birthday late last year, he completes the youth phase of his career at the end of the season. Arsenal will be making the decision on whether he remains on the staff beyond that time to become part of their U-23 squad.

    Cian Harries and Aaron Lewis (Swansea City)
    Two of what eventually became a contingent of six Swansea players who travelled to Bosnia for the Wales U-21 game. The pair have played in almost all of the Swansea U-23 team fixtures this season, in view that it has been one that sees them with a faint chance of being the league title winners, it must be regarded that they have made an important contribution in what will be toasted as a success, no matter their final placement in the league table. Though it is quite step below the intensity of first team football, their fellow competitors are now the best at this level of play after gaining promotion into the group for the start of this season. The next step for both, is to gain experience in that hard to reach first team football forum. I believe I am correct in saying that Aaron has been elevated into the first team training pool at times during the last couple of months, this giving confirmation his progress is being rewarded. A loan assignment at a Football League club is the highest probability of where he will gain his initial first team experience, but as we know, predictions are not the wisest comments to make about football affairs. Cian does already have first team experience having impressed at the start of last season when he was with Coventry. A struggling team, eventually relegated from League 1 was often making line-up changes as it tried in vain to find a consistent winning formula and this saw him lose his place after those early games. Added to this was a position change. He had caught the eye making appearances as left back but was believed to be potentially stronger as a central defender and so worked on that part of his game whilst with the U-23 team. Swansea made something of a coup by completing his transfer to join them at the start of the season as numerous others, including some of the leading clubs were also interested in the possibility of acquiring his signature. It is that central defensive position where his name is penciled in for the Liberty Stadium's U-23 team. He will, I am sure be anxious to step back into an environment of first team football as soon as possible and develop his game to succeed at that level.

    Joe Morrell (Bristol City on loan at Cheltenham Town)
    It has certainly been a time of great encouragement for Joe over the last few months as he finally established himself in a prolonged spell of first team football, a consequence of that ensuring regular selection to be part of the Wales U-21 squad. The national involvement is well deserved as he has certainly been a key contributor for the Robins, staff at the club expressing their delight in having the benefit of his presence in the team. It has been quite a leap forward in terms of his developing career, one that has excited the fans with an exhibition of his skills in driving the team forward as well as additional adulation when the occasional goal scored in spectacular fashion has been added. After his time at Cheltenham concludes at the end of the season, he should be able to enjoy his summer break with added confidence. Once that is over will come Joe's next challenge, as he starts another pre-season preparation at his parent club. It will be an important time for him, needing to impress his coaches enough for him to warrant not only inclusion in the first team squad but also game time in Championship matches. Good performances at this level would increase the chances of an evaluation of his worthiness to become another young gun pressing for a Wales senior squad selection.

    Harry Wilson (Liverpool on loan at Hull City)
    Harry is certainly making the most of his time on loan at Hull for the remainder of the season. He made an immediate impact at the club with a contribution of goals and assists, but then an injury looked to have derailed what was seen by many as an encouraging progression in his career. Good fortune did however reign as he healed quicker than may have originally been anticipated, a return to the team in good form another sign that all was back on track. A Wales senior squad call up not only saw his inclusion in the squad for the China Cup tournament but also a starting assignment in both matches played. He emulated his club form on national duty with a well struck goal, clever assist and good overall play. Congratulations to him for what he has achieved and good wishes to continue in his diligent efforts, as he strives to take his game to even higher levels.

    The international break did not produce the results one hoped for the Welsh teams but there are some positive thoughts that can be expressed. Firstly, congratulations to the senior team debutants, whose performances along with those with very limited previous exposure at that level confirmed the increasing strength in depth of the squad. There is a possibility that with increasing experience some may be very important members of the team in the seasons ahead. Any immediate success for the senior side will rely heavily on the availability as well as performances of the experienced players although the introduction of young guns at various points this season has also provided beneficial impetus to the team. It does seem to have occurred at an ideal time, the transition which offers the best chance of continuity being a blend of the new and old. Looking into the future is at best precarious, often foolhardy, when making definitive statements and so I will suggest a feeling of cautious optimism can be a reasonable one for Welsh fans. There does seem to be sufficient quantity and quality of young guns for a sufficient proportion of them to develop and help Wales field a team in a similar mode of competitiveness to what it has been of late.

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    Posted: Wednesday 28th March 2018
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