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       Latest Young guns blog by John Jones

    Joe Budd (Bristol Rovers) Midfielder, Born 2002
    In his first season as a scholar, Joe has been a regular member of the Rovers U-18 team over these past few months after also having played for the team a few times last season as he completed his time as a schoolboy member of their academy. He has also been involved with the older group development team at the club a few times this season and his aim going forward will be to show management that he is adept at that level, earning a professional contract if they believe he has the potential to eventually become a first team player. Last season, Joe also gathered some experience of international football when he was selected for a couple of Wales U-17 team squads.

    Oliver Cooper and Kieran Evans (Swansea City) Midfielders, both Born 1999
    Two players who have made steady progress over the last few years after they initially joined the Swansea academy system as youngsters. Both are now fulltime professional players at the club after having a successful time during their two seasons as scholars and moving on to become members of the U-23 squad. It is Kieran's third season in that status, whilst only the second for Oliver. Though born in the same year, Oliver's birthday occurs some months later in the year than Kieran's, resulting in their eligibility to join the scholar programme happening in different seasons. A few weeks before the suspension of football activities, Kieran sustained a significant injury in a match, one that was forecast to require rehabilitation beyond the end of the season as was originally scheduled. We wish him well in his recovery. It does seem that U-23 level football will not resume for quite a few months, hopefully it will have allowed enough time for him to regain full fitness.

    Rhys Davies (Leicester City) Goalkeeper, born 1999
    In the summer of 2018 Leicester negotiated a transfer agreement with Newport for Rhys to join their playing staff. In the previous season, he had been a first year scholar with County and impressive displays caught the attention of scouts. His move to Leicester meant that the second season as a scholar was spent playing for their U-18 team, doing well enough to earn a professional contract and become a member of the U-23 squad at the club. Now in his second season in that capacity, he has made a reasonable number of appearances for the U-23 team as well as a much higher number when he has been on the bench for matches. He is in a situation where the competition for game time is intense, Leicester have other highly regarded young goalkeepers vying with him for selection. Goalkeeper is the position that substitution appearances are a rarity, although Rhys did in fact get introduced into a game as a second half substitute for an EFL Trophy match.

    Morgan Sadler (Nottingham Forest) Defender, born 2002
    I first became aware of Morgan when seeing his name amongst those in a squad selected to represent Wales for games at U-15 international level. He was affiliated with the Manchester City academy at that time and found no further mention about him for well over a year, until seeing that he was playing for the Bury U-16 team. Included was a good amount of praise regarding his footballing ability and so I was guessing that he might become a scholar at the club at the start of this season. The demise of Bury left me wondering what consequences it would cause and suspected his name would possibly reappear linked with another club. Although it was just a brief announcement, that was the case a couple of months ago when the Forest website mentioned he had signed for the club. This is a supposition, but it is most likely that he spent some time on trial before signing. No matter, what I think we can deduce, is that he made a very favourable impression on management. His assignment as part of the U-23 squad seems to indicate their belief that the quality of his ability is such, that he can prosper at that level even though he is still relatively young. He may well be one to keep an eye on for the future.

    Momodou Touray (Newport County on loan at Barry Town) Forward, born 1999
    In his third season as a fulltime professional with the club, the Newport management team undoubtedly have a confidence in Momodou's ability to become a candidate for regular inclusion in the club's first team squad. They have decided the best preparation for developing that possibility to its conclusion, was for him to gain experience of first team football demands through loan arrangements. For the majority of the time football was played this season he has been on loan at Barry Town, after spending the first couple of weeks at Torquay. He was also at Barry for the whole of last season and so they obviously feel it is of mutual benefit. A regular in the team throughout his time with them, reports indicate he has been doing very well with a good amount of praise given for his performances. The next step will be trying to be credited with similar accolades when playing for his parent club. Over the years, Momodou has been selected in squads for both the Wales U-19 and U-21 teams.

    Ryan Viggars (Sheffield United) Forward, born 2003
    Ryan did gain a little experience in U-18 football last season when introduced off the bench in a handful of games the team played. This season he has accumulated a good deal more, having been a regular member of the squad and taking part in more than half of the games played. The Blades U-18 team were having a successful season and Ryan's contribution was undoubtedly important in it being so. Whenever playing resumes, his influence in the team will likely increase as he moves on toward completion of his scholarship. He has also gained considerable experience in international football in his developing career, having been involved with Wales teams from a young age. Initially playing for the country in U-15 internationals, he was then in the U-16 squads for the Victory Shield competition and other games last season. This season he moved on to play for the U-17's team that was anticipating the elite round of their UEFA competition when it was cancelled.

    page originally posted: Fri, 24 Apr 20 refresh for updates

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