Even though a latecomer into the goalkeeping position as a youngster, Chelsea’s Eddie Beach had an affinity for it, and worked hard to improve his abilities immediately. Within a couple of years or so of his start of wearing the gloves, his dedication and determination saw his talent emerge to the extent of impressing Southampton enough to sign him as a scholar. Completing his time in that phase saw him graduate to the ranks of full-time footballer and move on to U-21 development competition. Chelsea then decided he would be an asset in their development squad and so negotiated with Southampton for the transfer to occur. He played regularly for their U-21 side during the first half of last season before agreeing a loan assignment with Chelmsford for its second part. Once there, Eddie again played regularly and amassed a good amount of experience in twenty games for them. This season he has remained at Chelsea and is playing for the U-21’s including in the EFL Trophy game. His club highlight has been his inclusion on the bench for one Premier League game. Eddie’s eligibility to represent Wales became evident and consequently he was selected to become a member of the U-18 and U-19 squads. He has by this time established himself as first choice for the U-21 team but also knows that there are very capable deputies in the squad and will need to display his prowess to retain the status. If his rate of progress is maintained, he will undoubtedly be evaluated as a candidate to be promoted into the senior squad at some point.
Playing regularly for the Wolverhampton Wanderers U-18 team in the 2018/19 season, attacking midfielder Chem Campbell was at that time a schoolboy associate at the club. The following season he started his full-time football career as he became a scholar and within four months of doing so made his first team debut as a starter in an EFL Cup tie. A month short of reaching his seventeenth birthday at that time, there was little doubt that the coaching staff identified him as a special talent and they facilitated his progress by exposing him to the challenge of U-23 development football in preference to having him play with the U-18’s. A combination of circumstances delayed his next first team involvement until the 2021/22 season and after numerous occasions on the bench, played his second game for the team as a substitute in a late season Premier League game. During the first half of last season, he was regularly in the matchday squads and made a total of six substitute appearances before being loaned out to Wycombe Wanderers in January. He made regular appearances for them, and this season has made a late August loan move to fellow League One club Charlton Athletic. Judging by what has happened in these early weeks, he will add substantially to the good amount of experience gained at that level of football and will be striving to perform in a manner that convinces onlookers his ability is sufficient to successfully compete against more challenging opponents. First playing for a Wales team with the U-15’s, he continued doing so for the U-16’s and U-17’s. The disruption of covid prevented him having an opportunity with the U-19’s but was later approached about doing so with the U-21’s. He asked to be deferred from consideration as he felt that at that time his involvement in first team training would be interrupted at a critical juncture. There will, I am sure, be a renewed approach if he can continue his progress and reach his goal of performing at the higher levels of football.
After making his first team debut in a Carabao Cup tie at the start of the 2021/22 season Coventry City midfielder Ryan Howley became a regular addition to the matchday squads during the second half of it. After numerous occasions of bench time, he made his league debut with a brief substitute appearance in April of last year. Ryan continued his involvement with the first team last season and again had to have patience before having a few more springtime outings. In August he was on the bench for three of the four league games as well playing in the Carabao Cup tie. Club management obviously have a high regard of his qualities but decided that rather than using him sporadically, to accept the request from Scottish Premier club Dundee for a loan assignment to be instigated, likely be an arrangement beneficial to all concerned. He has played in a couple of games for the club already and their manager is quoted as being more than satisfied with his contribution. The experience Ryan gains, will help develop his skills to the level that Coventry deem him capable of procuring. Though involved in training camps from his schoolboy days and onward, Ryan did not make his Wales debut until he played for the U-19’s two seasons ago. Last season, he graduated into the U-21 squad and made his debut with them.
After spending his academy associateship days playing for the Manchester City teams, midfielder Owen Hesketh moved on to join Wolverhampton Wanderers as a scholar before becoming a full professional at the club two years later. He had played quite a few times for the U-23 team during his U-18 eligibility and then became a member of that squad in the summer 2021. He played regularly for the team and then subsequently for the U-21’s as he continued his development. Some periods of absence due to injury have hampered his progress at times, but the consensus of the coaching staff is an affirmative regard for his skill set. He is certainly having success this season, contributing with goals as well as playing in all the games. The next step for him is to be tested at first team level and it may well be tasked at the club to secure an appropriate loan as a help in their evaluation process. In the meantime, I’m sure he will work diligently and keep making improvements to his abilities. Owen is another with a long history of Wales representation, having played at U-15, U-16 and U-17 levels, being in the age group that missed out at U-19’s and then last season made his debut for the U-21’s. Josh Esen is a team mate of Owen in the U-21 squad and is in his third season with Wolves after they signed him from Llanelli just after the start of the 2021/22 season. He was a member of the U-18 squad up until the summer and did well enough to secure a renewed three-year contract prior to the end of last season. Josh played a few times for the U-21’s last season and has made a couple of substitute appearances this season. He made his lone Wales appearance when doing so for the U-18’s two seasons ago. Undoubtedly believed to have the qualities to succeed, his first aim will be to build on his experience at U-21 level and then progress toward first team football involvement as quickly as he can achieve it.