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    Young Guns Blog index


    Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 11 Nov 22 : 08:15  refresh for updates

    To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page

    Zac Ashworth (West Bromwich Albion) born 2002, Defender.
    Joining West Brom as a ten year old, in his decade with the club, Zac has continually improved the quality of his abilities to the extent that he is now a member of the first team squad at the Hawthorns. Starting as a scholar in the 2019/20 season, he only made eight appearances for the U-18’s that season but then played in almost all of the games for the team the following one, along with a couple for the U-23’s. He did well enough for management to offer him a fulltime professional contract and so last season he became a member of the U-23 squad. He impressed enough in that team to earn himself time on the bench with the first team as mid season approached and eventually made his debut when introduced as a substitute in the third round FA Cup tie. He later played in the last two league games of the season. He was a starter for both of the club’s Carabao Cup matches earlier in the season and has been on the bench for one league game. His main position is as a left back, though he is equally capable of filling the left side central role and his versatility also allows the coaches to confidently assign him a defensive midfield role if they require it. Zac made his debut for Wales when he played for the U-21 team earlier this season after first being selected for the squad that played games at the end of last season.

    Chem Campbell (Wolverhampton Wanderers) born 2002, Forward.
    Moving from Birmingham City’s academy to join Wolves as a fourteen year old, Chem played a dozen times for the U-18 team before signing as a scholar at the club at the start of the 2019/20 season. It was quite a season for him, playing for the U-18’s in the early weeks and then on an accelerated path with the U-23 team, he also made his first team debut when playing in a fourth round Carabao Cup match. He was two months short of reaching his seventeenth birthday when doing so and so entered the record books as the second youngest ever debutant starting a game for the Wolves first team. The interruption of the pandemic and a couple of injury issues meant that although he was performing creditably for the U-23’s, there was no further first team game involvement until last season when he made a half dozen bench appearances and made his league debut as a substitute in a late season game. This season, it is a different story and has already made five appearances. They have all been off the bench, but I think it is correct to regard him as a valued member of the first team squad. Chem first played for Wales when selected for the U-15 team and then continued doing so for the U-16 and U-17 teams. The pandemic prevented him and his year group from having the opportunity to play U-19 international football and his preference has been to concentrate on club football when approached about his interest in playing for the U-21’s last season. If he continues recent trends and accumulates Premier League minutes, he could well become a contender for selection consideration in the senior squad later in the season.

    Joe Low (Bristol City) born 2002, Defender.
    A member of their academy teams before the Robins signed him to a scholar contract at the start of the 2018/19 season, Joe’s performances for both the U-18 and U-23 teams during those two seasons persuaded management to get his signature on a long term contract at its completion. They were undoubtedly convinced that the quality he exhibited would eventually develop to a standard of being a first team player at the club. He has been a member of their U-23 and this season the U-21 squads since the 2020/21 season and had a mix of playing for those teams and gaining first team experience with short term loans at relatively local non league clubs. Last season an agreement was reached for a longer period loan with National League side Eastleigh, one that lasted three months until the club instigated the recall clause. There did seem a possibility of him being included in the first team match squads at that time, but he did not play for any of City’s teams for the remainder of the season and I do not know the reason. This season, Joe has been playing regularly for the U-21 team and had his initial first team assignment when on the bench for last midweek’s league match. He was again on the bench for the weekend game and in fact made his debut when introduced for the last seven minutes of the match. Joe first played for Wales in an U-16 friendly game late in the 2017/18 season and then played for the U-17 team the following season. In 2019/20 he was in the U-19 squad that competed in the European qualification games when he was a year younger than most of those in the group.

    David Robson (Hull City – on loan at Crawley Town)
    An academy player with Scottish club Hearts, Hull secured his services by negotiating his transfer and he became a scholar at the Humberside club at the start of the 2018/19 season. He not only gained experience playing for the U-18 team but did so for the U-23’s as well during this part of his career and ultimately became a fulltime professional at the club in the summer of 2020. He continued playing for the U-23 team and then had his first senior team involvement when on the bench for a month of March league game last season. Soon after he was loaned out to Farsley Celtic and gained first team experience playing in their last eight league games of the season. He made his Hull City debut when playing in their first round Carabao Cup game at the start of this season and later in the month came the loan arrangement with Crawley. Playing in their Papa John’s Trophy matches and on the bench for league games for the first couple of months, he has recently gained League Two experience when playing in some of those games. David has had a long association with Wales teams, starting out when playing for the U-15 development team and then regularly for the U-16’s and U-17’s. Another who missed out at U-19 level but this season played for the U-21’s in their friendly match.

    Ed Turns (Brighton and Hove Albion) born 2002, Defender.
    Joining the Brighton academy system in 2014, Ed quickly made a favourable impression at the club and had already played a few times for the U-18 team before he was eligible to start his time as a scholar in the 2019/20 season. His first inclusion in the U-18 game day squad had in fact occurred late in the 2017/18 season when he made a few bench appearances. As a scholar he not only played for the U-18 team but also and with more frequency for the U-23 team in his second season in that status. Last season as he began his time as a professional with the club, made his first team debut when selected for the team that played in the third round of the Carabao Cup and was then on the bench for a Premier League match a few weeks later. His quality in fact persuaded management to offer him a new contract, extending it for a couple of seasons beyond his original one. This season, his only first team game time came in the Carabao Cup tie but has had numerous times on the bench for Premier League games and though there has been a management change during the season, it hasn’t at all lessened the very high opinion of his ability at the club. Ed’s had his first involvement with Wales teams last season when selected for a couple of U-21 squads, making his debut in one of the late season games. He was again selected for the U-21 squad this season and when it was convened an announcement revealed him as the choice for captaincy of the side.
    The announcement of the World Cup squad this week has produced some media comments regarding the disappointment of the players who believed they were in contention for a place but were not included. I do think the correct decisions were made and am fully supportive of those selected. I will however add that I greatly sympathize with some of those omitted and concede that they made enough of an impression that certainly warranted a belief for consideration of their inclusion. Some seasons ago, I did make a comment that I believed a day would arrive that such controversies would arise for a Wales manager. No, I don’t have a crystal ball and cannot foresee the future. I did, however, believe in what I thought was developing excellently within the Wales structure and hoped I was right in my estimation of the development of enough young talent to bring us to this point. What I will now add is that I think those decisions will increase in difficulty for future squads. I think a case in point is the young men I have discussed this week. All of them are certainly viable candidates for the future if they can continue in the mode they seem to be heading, maybe one or two much sooner than later even though they were not in that situation this time. What must also be added is that they are not alone, there are numerous others throughout the age groups. It does look as though The Red Wall needs to be prepared to be in good voice for the foreseeable future.              

    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]

    Posted: Friday 11th November 2022
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