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    Young Guns Blog index


    Young Guns Blog by John Jones

    page updated: Fri, 13 Jan 23 : 08:10 refresh for updates

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

    Sam Collins (Nottingham Forest) born 2003, Midfielder.
    Signing on as a scholar at Forest before the start of the 2020/21 season, after previously having been a member of their academy for a number of years, Sam quickly became a regular member of the U-18 team. He played in most of the games in his time in that status and in fact was only absent from one last season. His quality earned him a professional contract and as a member of the U-21 squad, has played in all but one of their games this season. With the first team competing in the Premier League and having accumulated a large squad, the prospects of first team football seem very unlikely for Sam in the short term. The U-21’s status is as a Category One academy and the team is doing reasonably well against strong opposition and so there may well be an opportunity for Sam to experience first team football through a loan assignment at some point. His only involvement with the Welsh national set up has been as a member of the teams that competed in the 2017 Cymru Cup matches, but I am sure his good form will have been noticed by the coaching staff, as they assess candidates for future squads.

    Connor Evans (Crewe Alexandra) born 2003, Forward.
    After being associated with the Crewe academy teams since the age of eleven, Connor became a scholar with the club at the start of the 2020/21 season. Playing for both the U-18 and U-23 teams during the first season in that capacity, Connor progressed at a rate that earned him first team opportunities last season. He made his debut when introduced as a late game substitute for a Papa John’s Trophy match in the early days of January last year and then became established as a regular member of the first team squad for league matches soon after. Although it was mostly on the bench, he did make four brief appearances and was certainly disappointed when missing the last few weeks of the season through injury. Signing professional forms with the club in the summer, his recovery and rehabilitation period was approaching its conclusion as the players returned for pre-season activities. Fully fit as the season started, he played in games for the U-21’s before joining Marine on a successful one- month loan period. Returning to the club in late November, Connor has made one start and one substitute appearance in league matches and will be aiming to get significant playing time during the second half of the season. He was selected for the 2017 Cymru Cup games and then played for the U-16 development in 2019. He also played for the U-18 team during the 2020/21 season.

    Liam Higgins (Everton) born 2003, Midfielder.
    Recruited from Wrexham’s academy by the Toffees as a fifteen year old, Liam began his time as a scholar with the club in the 2019/20 season. He played regularly for the U-18 team in that season and for part of the following one, until injury determined its premature end. A decision to extend his scholar contract saw Liam remain at the club last season but only three substitute appearances for the U-23 team were possible as a return to full fitness was continually hampered. Confirmed by a recent coaching staff comment, there is no doubt that management’s regard of Liam’s skills are considered worthy a very high grade and he remains at Everton as a member of the U-21 squad. Playing for the team in recent weeks, it is hoped that he can maintain his fitness in the coming months and confirm the positive evaluation of his abilities. In 2017, Liam was a member of the Wales Victory Shield squad as a fourteen year old and was then selected for the same competition the following season before injury forced his withdrawal. In 2019/20 he played for the U-17’s as they successfully negotiated progress in that season’s European competition, one that was eventually cancelled before completion due to the pandemic.

    Caleb Hughes (Cardiff City) born 2003, Midfielder.
    In his five seasons as a member of the Bluebirds academy, Caleb impressed the coaching staff as he progressed through the various teams. He was in fact selected to play for the U-18 team in the 2019/20 season and may have been chosen to play more often had there not been a need to shorten the season. He signed on as a scholar with the club in the summer of 2020, but that contract was superseded a few months later that same year when signing professional forms on his seventeenth birthday. He was a regular selection for the U-18’s in the 2020/21 season and was likewise last season before being loaned out to Haverfordwest County for the second half of it. This season he has remained at the club and has been playing for the U-21 team. During his schoolboy days Caleb played in the 2017 Cymru Cup games and then played for the Wales U-17 team in the 2019/20 season. Last season, he gained five caps at U-19 level, playing games in a preparatory tournament and then for the team that competed in the preliminary European qualification tournament.

    Omar Taylor-Clarke (Bristol City) born 2003, Forward.
    Recruited from his hometown of Cardiff by the Robins academy staff, Omar spent some seasons playing for their teams before becoming a scholar at the club at the start of the 2020/21 season. He played regularly for the U-18 team and last season appeared in almost half of the U-23 team’s games. He signed on as a full professional in the summer and joined Yate Town on a short term loan before the start of the season, returning to join the U-21 squad and playing in all but a couple of their games. Omar’s good form has been noted by the club’s management and he was rewarded with a bench appearance for the first team when they played their third round FA Cup tie last weekend. He will be hoping that it is the start of regular involvement with the team. In the 2019/20 season, Omar was a regular member of the Wales U-17 squads and helped the team successfully compete in the preliminary round of European qualification.

    My linguistic abilities are inadequate to provide a worthy description of what Gareth Bale’s career has contributed to our enjoyment as Wales fans over most of the past decade. I would just like to add my salute to the Ultimate Dragon of Dragons.


    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]

    Posted: Friday 13th January 2023
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