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    page originally posted : Tue 10 Dec 19: refresh for updates
    Young Guns

    Mason Jones-Thomas (Swansea City)
    Although I am not sure as to the exact cause, it would seem that Mason had to deal with some frustrating times last season. He appeared in only about one third of the U-18 team games after having played in most of the games the previous campaign and was in fact the top goal scorer from his attacking midfield position. It was most probably injuries and it does seem that those issues are now in the past. The coaching staff at the club were confident enough of his quality to reward him with a fulltime professional contract for this season and are seemingly justified for doing so, his regular appearances for the U-23 team a strong confirmation of his ability.    Last seasons lack of game time at club level also saw Mason miss out on the chance to be selected for the Wales U-19 team and continue in the squad that he had been part of the previous season. Now he will be aiming to do well enough to eventually warrant consideration for inclusion in the national U-21 squad and add to the caps awarded for his international schoolboy, U-17 as well as U-19 appearances. Of course, he will want to push his game to a level that could press his claim for a first team opportunity with the Swans as well.

    Jack Madelin (AFC Wimbledon)
    A second-year scholar, Jack having made such a favourable impression in his progression through the Wimbledon youth system was signed on to a fulltime professional contract in the early months of this season. Since that time, he has been integrated into the first team squad, making his debut for the clubs senior team when introduced from the bench late in a League One game. He also started for the team in an EFL Trophy match a couple of weeks later. The management staff undoubtedly have a high opinion of his ability and have included him in the matchday squad on a number of occasions. Jack himself, will I am sure, be anxious to gain further experience of the demands of first team football and adapt his talent to be able to regularly perform at that level. Having represented the Wales national teams on quite a few occasions, both in schoolboy and U-17 internationals, his progress at the club will surely make him a strong candidate to continue the trend with the U-19 team next season.

    Keenan Patten (Cardiff City on loan at Pen-y-bont)
    Having completed his two years as a scholar with Cardiff, Keenan has now joined the ranks of the fulltime professionals at the club. He is now in his first year in that capacity and is on a season long loan assignment with the Welsh Premier League club Pen-y-bont. Playing regular first team football at that level, as he has been doing, has proven to be very beneficial for numerous young Welsh players in the past and so hopefully it will be likewise in Keenans case. Keenans ambition will be to wear the Cardiff City shirt as a first team player and this first step into competitive league action may well prove to be valuable experience in that goal.  He certainly impressed some knowledgeable observers who watched him play for the Wales U-19 team and commented on his valuable contribution towards the teams recent success. It continues his association with Wales teams, from his schoolboy days and during his time of eligibility for the U-17 team. His desire will be to represent the nation throughout the age-group categories and eventually to the senior squad. His first target will be to maintain his place in the U-19 team that competes in elite round of the tournament in the spring of next year.

    Scott Smith (Wigan Athletic)
    Scotts first involvement with a Wales national team was the invitation and attendance of a training camp for prospective candidates for this seasons U-19 squad as last season came to a close. At that time, he was at the completion of his time as a scholar with Wigan, captain of their U-18 team, a good quality side that had an extremely successful season in most of the competitions they played in. Another excellent addition to the ranks of Welsh eligible players and he has now represented the nation as part of the U-19 squad this season. I have already mentioned previously about the recent success the team enjoyed, and Scott was another of the players that contributed to it in the games they played. This season Scott has been playing his club football for the Latics U-23 team and has also captained that team on occasion. His goals now will be to develop his career with the experience of first team football as well as playing as much international football as possible.

    - John Jones.

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    Posted: Tuesday 10th December 2019
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