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    Young Guns Blog index


    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Ryan Astley (Everton)
    Ryan began his career in full time football at the start of this season when he signed on as a scholar with the Goodison Park team. Having already played some games for the Toffee's U-18 team as well as one game for the U-23 team last season, he has already provided some anticipation for the followers of the club with some very positive reports regarding the displays he produced. Expectations for him to be another in the list of very good players that have been developed by the club will be strongly in the mind of some fans, hoping that he may become another of those lauded home-grown central defenders as has been historically utilized by Everton teams at times. Of course, it is somewhat early days to be discussing such a scenario, but he has already impressed some highly regarded commentators with the talent possessed. Much hard work to continue along a path of continued improvement, along with an ability to overcome new challenges will be needed in the months and years ahead for him to succeed in his quest to forge a long term at the top echelons of the game. Playing in stadiums containing many thousands of admirers whilst wearing a red shirt would be a thought to terrify those that occupy the Gwladys Street Stand faithfully, if it were for anything other than representing his national side.

    Brandon Cooper (Swansea City)
    Having completed his time of youth eligibility, Brandon is now a full-time member of the Swan's U-23 squad. Having been projected as a potential future star by a national football magazine when they published an article identifying those possible candidates in the past, the ability he possesses has obviously impressed some respected judges of talent. Now, he is of course on the next step of the process that may take him along the path to fulfill such promise. He will not only be often opposed by players slightly older than he in regular U-23 fixtures but may also face considerably more experienced players if involved in Checkatrade Cup matches. The pace at which he adapts to such challenges will be closely monitored by the manager and his coaches, doing so with some amount of ease would increase the chances of him being considered for first team duty sooner rather than later. Undoubtedly, Brandon is on a course of continuous improvement as his recent inclusion in the Wales U-21 squad suggests, it is now a case seeing if he eventually matches what has been predicted as a future eventuality for him.

    Jay Foulston (Newport County)
    Jay came to the attention of many of us that follow the fortunes of young Welsh players at the start of last season when the manager of the Exiles was quoted as having been so impressed with his quality that he promoted him into involvement with the club's first team squad. Jay had signed on scholar terms only a very few weeks previous to the development and so it was an impressive endorsement of his skills. He was used sparingly on first team duty last season, not surprising in view of the team squad strength and the successful season it enjoyed. This season, once again minutes on the field have been limited but his regular appearances on the bench show that his manager has every confidence in his ability should he be required. Time is very much on his side as he is still a number of weeks from reaching his 18th birthday and signs suggest that he will be utilized whenever possible to gain experience and that his tally of first team appearances will grow substantially in the months ahead.

    Sion Spence (Cardiff City)
    A prolific scorer for the Bluebird's U-18 team last season, Sion has begun this season in similar fashion with a contribution of goals as the team has won all its league games to this point. The campaign is still very much in its infancy, but it does seem that the club possibly has some promising youngsters on its books. Sion is certainly one that fans will be hopeful can keep progressing through the development teams and eventually contribute in first team games. An ability to score goals is a commodity high on every manager's list of priorities and so could well be the key as to how high he can climb up the ladder of success at the Cardiff City Stadium club. Considered to be an attacking midfielder rather than an out and out striker and so he has the ability to provide other assets toward a team's attempt to overcome its opponents. A second year scholar, Sion will probably hoping he can impress enough to get an opportunity to play some games at U-23 level of play as the season moves into its later phases. A good showing in such a scenario would greatly increase the chances of him being offered a full time professional contract next summer.

    Jack Vale (Blackburn Rovers)
    During his first season as a scholar in 2017/18, Jack not only played a significant role as a member of Rovers' U-18 team but also had numerous appearances in their U-23 side. This season he has not only continued similarly with the U-18 team but has also been inserted into the U-23 line up whenever possible. Seemingly he is much coveted by the club management team and maybe considered as a candidate for the first team in the near future as he gains as much experience as possible against a stronger quality of opponents. A goal scorer who can operate both centrally and from the flanks, it provides various options as to how he can most efficiently assist the teams in which he performs. Though he has been associated with the Ewood Park club for the last few seasons, he was previously a member of the junior set up at TNS. It is pleasing to note that the development systems encouraged by the Welsh Premier League are capable of identifying and assisting in the progress of young players. Recognition of this and particularly TNS in this case is to be applauded and a continuation in similar vein can only be to the betterment of Welsh football in general.

    With that I will close this blog and extend my apologies for not producing an effort to be published last week. A computer glitch and my inability to rectify it until I arrived home from an enjoyable period away was the contributing factor.

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    Posted: Wednesday 12th September 2018
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