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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Matthew Argent-Barnes (Bolton Wanderers on loan at Bamber Bridge)
    Matty, as he is generally referred to, has recently joined Bamber Bridge on a loan assignment from his parent club Bolton. A second year scholar with the Wanderers, he has been a regular member of their U-18 team since the start of last season and has contributed to what has been a very successful period for the team. He has also had a couple of appearances off the bench for the U-23 side this season but the club have seemingly preferred to expose him to senior team football as a part of the development they see as more appropriate and he is doing well in this new scenario for him. Matty can operate as both a wide player or a central striker and is usually a regular feature in the goal scoring statistics for the matches he plays.

    Sam Bowen (Cardiff City)
    Captain of the Bluebirds U-18 team that is enjoying a successful season as its halfway point is fast approaching. They sit atop of the Southern section with their nearest rivals a few points adrift and will hope it continues in the same manner for the remainder of the campaign. Second year scholar Sam is a regular member of the side, having also played in the majority of last season's games for the team as well. An important time for both him and many of his team mates as they come towards the end of this phase of their careers. Obviously, there must be a good amount of talented players within this age group for them to be doing well and so it is likely that many are under consideration for an offer of a professional contract, moving on to the next step of the development process. Whether all that are candidates for this progression can be absorbed into the squad for the U-23's next season is an unlikely occurrence. Sam must be one of those with a higher probability of achieving a positive outcome, but I am sure will be well aware of the need to continue in the mode of producing impressive performances for him to have a successful career in football. Having been a member of the national teams through the age groups, Sam continues to wear his country's colours as a member of the U-19 squad at present.

    Ben Erickson (Swansea City)
    A second year scholar at the Liberty Stadium club, Ben has regularly featured in the Swansea U-18 side this season and is in fact captain of the team. It comes after a season when no appearances for the side occurred and only a couple of times on the bench as an unused sub. Though I do not know of any information to verify it, I would assume that there must have been some injury issues to create what seems an anomaly, especially as he had been involved the previous season as a schoolboy and in fact made a handful of appearances during that time. No matter, it is good to see him having success at this time and will I am sure be anxious to lead the team towards improved results, as it has largely been a struggle to secure positive ones to this point in the season. With a good proportion of those who played in the majority of games last season having done well enough to have moved on to U-23 football, it also provides some reason of difficulties for younger players to be selected. Another consequence is a relatively younger average age in this year's U-18 team and maybe some explanation as to why defeats have been more numerous. This may not be of huge concern, as times of adversity can on occasion prove to have a beneficial outcome in developing character and an eventual better conclusion.

    Niall Huggins (Leeds United)
    In his second season as a member of Leeds's U-18 team, Niall has been selected in the starting eleven for most of their games this season. Though he did play in quite a few games for the team last season, it could not really be termed that he was a regular member. This time around there is a difference that he is not only playing regularly but also scores important goals and at this time he is top scorer for the team. It seems that he is utilized as a wide player though obviously he has developed the knack of being in the right place to apply finishing touches to offensive plays. He has been doing well enough to get some bench time and an appearance for the U-23 team. Leeds have a large and experienced squad at that level of play and it is to Niall's credit that he is able to compete for the attention he has received. He will certainly be aiming for things to continue in the same vein for the remainder of the season, doing so will enhance his chances of being retained to become part of the U-23 squad when the next one comes around.

    Tom Pugh (Scunthorpe United)
    Tom was associated with Leeds United during his time as a schoolboy, but coaching changes at the club in the academy level created a scenario where he severed his ties with them. Scunthorpe were the resulting beneficiaries of those events as he switched his allegiance to them and they had no hesitation in offering him a scholar contract. Now in his second season playing for the Iron, he is captain of the club's U-18 team. Not only is he heavily involved playing youth football for the club, he has also been given some exposure to first team situations as well. He assisted the team during some of their pre-season training fixtures and has also been named in the squad that has competed in Checkatrade Trophy games, making his first team debut when appearing off the bench in one of those matches. This would certainly indicate that Tom has made good progress over the 18 months or so at United, some further involvement at first team level may well be an increasing occurrence in the coming months.

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    Posted: Thursday 22nd November 2018
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