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    Young Guns Blog index

    WALES NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM : YOUNG GUNS BLOG

    Wales Football Youth
    Young Guns Blog
    by John Jones

    Rubin Colwill
    Joseff Edwards
    Dakarai Mafico
    Trey George
    Eli King
    George Abbott
    Ben Hammond
    Justin Hanks
    Sam Collins


    page updated: Thu, 14 Dec 23 : 08:20 - refresh for updates

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

     

    Many Wales fans, including myself, were pleasantly surprised with the emergence of Rubin Colwill (2002) as a Cardiff City first team player in the 2020/21 season. Previously regarded as one of numerous talented prospects in the club’s development system, the delight expressed by onlookers and the opinions of footballing pundits regarding his game influencing abilities was exciting news for those of us reading about his exploits. His selection for the Wales Euro finals squad soon after, was accepted as not necessarily consequential in the short term but rather as a preparatory step for the future and the possibility of him being an important contributor towards qualification for the next version of the tournament. Rubin’s path has not been as smooth as we maybe had anticipated, but of course so little in football does proceed in the manner we imagine when we try and look into the future. It is a fan’s privilege to think in optimistic terms, particularly when trying to maintain positive feelings about upcoming events. I think that in Rubin’s case, we can allow ourselves to remain with an optimistic outlook even if our original timeline did not materialize. Even though approaching a century of appearances for the club, a large majority have been as a substitute and the disruptions of injuries and managerial changes have not aided his development in the most helpful manner. It is easy to forget that he is still very much a young man, and a projection of his best years are still ahead of him is very valid.

    This season, it has been a case of again having to adjust to the philosophies of a new manager and it is very encouraging that Rubin is getting increasingly involved in team play as it progresses. He is showing that he is still very capable of exciting the fans with his skills along with providing important contributions toward team success. If all goes well, it will occur at an increasing rate as the season continues. It is not unrealistic to not only expect for a Rubin return to the Wales senior squad, but that also that he can become an influential member of the team as we move ahead. The Cardiff City development squads contain many young Welsh players who are talented, and I have documented quite a few of the young professionals who have experienced the thrill of making their first team debut during the season. The entire U-18 squad roster comprises only Welsh qualified players and defender Joseff Edwards (2007) and midfielder Dakarai Mafico (2006) have made appearances in all the games played this season. First year scholar Joseff was a member of the Cardiff academy teams for the four previous seasons, and as best as I can deduce, is generally inserted in a central defensive position for the team. He does, however, possess plenty of pace and can comfortably perform on the wide right of defence if required. His performances for the U-18 team have also earned him the opportunity to be introduced to the demands of U-21 football and he has played in two games for that team. Dakarai is also a first year scholar who has an almost decade long association with the club. He made a few appearances for the U-18 team last season as well as being selected once for the U-21’s. He has also featured for them this season with two starts and one as a substitute. Dakarai played for Wales in what was recognized as an U-16 Federations Cup tournament and then later for U-17 team last season.

    Midfielder Trey George (2006) is another who has impressive statistics this season. I am missing line-ups for two matches so what I can say is that he has played in eleven of the twelve matches I am aware of, but it is not necessarily his appearance record that leads to his inclusion. His goal scoring record certainly impresses, having contributed seven goals in those eleven games. Trey is a second year scholar at Cardiff and had one substitute outing for the U-18’s in the 2021/22 season and following that by playing in all but four of their games last season. Trey was also in the Wales squad for the previously mentioned Federations Cup tournament. Morecambe fans will I’m sure have expressed their gratitude this past weekend towards Cardiff City midfielder Eli King (2002). As mentioned earlier in the season, he is on a season long loan with the Lancashire club and was the scorer of the team’s first goal in a surprise 2-0 FA Cup second round victory at League One club Wycombe Wanderers. He will be returning to South Wales in January when they visit Swansea in the third round.

    Watford central defender George Abbott (2005) began his time as a scholar with them in the summer of 2021, having been a member of their academy teams for the four previous seasons. He played regularly for the U-18 team in the 2021/22 season, but the coaching staff decided he was worthy of being promoted into the U-21 team and he played in a half dozen games for them. Last season, he was challenged to display his prowess in U-21 football and was only utilized infrequently for the U-18’s. He responded by not only playing regularly for the team but was also selected as captain of the side. Becoming a full professional for this season, George was designated for a loan assignment with National League South side Chippenham Town at the end of the transfer window. He managed to get some amount of first team experience with them before being recalled by his parent club a few weeks later. George was integrated into first team training sessions on numerous occasions as a scholar and played in some first team games before the start of last season. An indication of the club’s staff high regard of him and so hopefully there will be an opportunity for him in a competitive first team match sooner rather than later. George has been regularly involved with Wales teams from U-15 level and onwards, captaining the U-18 team that played in a couple of friendly matches toward the end of last season.

    The Nottingham Forest U-21 team were included in the EFL Trophy competition for the first time this season and managed to progress from the group stage before being eliminated in a second round defeat this week. Defenders Ben Hammond (2004) and Justin Hanks (2004) both played in this week’s game, having done so regularly in all the U-21 team games this season. Ben is in his second year as a professional after being given a new contract at the end of his first year as a scholar in the summer of 2022. Ben first represented Wales at U-15 internationals and has continued to collect caps playing for the U-16’s, U-18’s and then for the U-19 team last season. Justin completed his time as a scholar last season and became a professional in the summer. He was not involved with Wales until he played for the U-18’s two seasons ago and then also for the U-19’s last season. Both will have gained valuable extra experience playing in the Bristol Motors Trophy games, encountering opposition different to what they meet when playing in U-21 league games. They will be hoping it will be of assistance as they attempt to progress toward their goal of selection for the Forest first team. Midfielder Sam Collins (2003) who is possibly injured and unavailable for the U-21 team in recent weeks was also a member of the teams that played in the first two group stage games of the Bristol Motors Trophy competition. He began his time as a scholar at the club in 2020 and played regularly for the U-18 team. He became a professional at the completion of that phase in 2022 and has played in most of the U-21 team’s games since that time. Sam was amongst the group of players who participated in the 2017 Cymru Cup matches.


    [ photo embedded from FAW cymru ]


    Posted: Thursday 14th December 2023
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