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Young guns blog update

 

Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

This will be the third week that I have made comments on individual players and now it will be the turn of those born in the year 2000 to have some words written about them. It was something of a dilemma for me to decide whether I should dedicate an article for such a young group. It is after all about youngsters who are still very much in the early learning process of the what the demands of full time football entails as they attempt to further refine their skills in the youth environment at their respective clubs. As I reflect on many years of evaluation within my thoughts of how outcomes may unfold, my track record, to probably put it kindly, is poor. I can give myself some decent excuses as to why this is so, it is something I have done over for a long time and involves a large list of names as well as being somewhat blinkered in hoping the best for each young Welsh boy about which I read positive news. In any sport, football being about as tough as most, the path towards reaching the pinnacle of achievement is littered by those who fall by the wayside before its accomplishment, unfortunate casualties of how competition is defined. Also, the reason why successes are so revered, a salute to mental and physical effort that has been required to get anywhere near to the top of the tree as it were. I need to shut up and move on don’t I, consider me reprimanded.

Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea)
The touting of early teenage football players for stardom is a precarious proposition and a dangerous prediction to be made, as the vast majority falter at some point in the suggested route. In rare circumstances, there are those that are so talented that it becomes almost a given that the call is correct. Ethan does seem to fall into that category and has already proved himself a capable player at senior level. High praise for his performances in the Exeter first team and participation in a Wales senior team training camp is not something that happens in the life of a schoolboy, in Ethan’s case it has occurred. Now, he is in the next step as he starts his professional career having transferred to Chelsea. Though a couple of years of youth eligibility still remain, he is unlikely to play very much at U-18 level, the requirement of his services for important cup ties may be the exception. Where the story proceeds from here is one to follow rather than be speculative, all being well, the awarding of a Wales senior cap could possibly be only some months away from being a reality.

Brandon Cooper (Swansea City)
Brandon was featured as special talent in a national football magazine last season, quite an accolade. The assumption is, that such a prediction of one to be watched in the future with the expectancy of becoming a star player was done soliciting the opinion of knowledgeable football evaluators, even so, it is still a bold statement for someone who was only part way through his first season as a scholar with the Swans at that time. I have no dispute with such a prediction, in fact much the opposite, as I welcome seeing all praiseworthy reports for young Welsh players. Brandon certainly was one of the star players in the Wales schoolboy team a couple of seasons ago as well as representing the nation at U-17 level last season. He must be considered to already have both the physical and mental aptitude to be a formidable talent at his age level and so the next step will be for him to be tested at the U-23 standard of football. If his progress is to be maintained, an anticipation that promotion into that level during the present season is to be expected. Though the financial rewards available to all Premier clubs is now at a point where star player purchases are possible, all of them also make great efforts to produce players through their development systems. Swansea are no exception to this philosophy and have spared no effort along with I am sure a financial commitment to strive in this fashion. They in fact deserve to be lauded and congratulated in gaining promotion to join the elite group of teams that compete in that environment. A continued success of these endeavours should provide better stability for the club with a hope of producing future Welsh senior internationals a particular wish of mine.

Rabbi Matondo (Manchester City)
Upon reaching his 16th birthday, Rabbi moved on from Cardiff with whom he had been associated as a schoolboy and joined Manchester City. After a period in which my ability to find any news about him was not successful, this changed in the last few weeks of the season. My guess is that he was involved with the U-16 team until his introduction into the U-18 set up as the club transitioned in preparation for the future. The opportunity he was given to gain experience at that level was certainly accepted, producing a man of the match performance on his debut. A couple of subsequent appearances confirmed he was not out of place in that elevated status and so now comes a season of full participation at that level. A skillful and pacy winger with the ability to both create and score goals is how he was described, as he caught the eye in the schoolboy international match reports, a commodity that is very helpful for any team that seeks improvement. Emphasis in the near term will undoubtedly be on youth football but if the propensity for goal scoring continues at the impressive rate exhibited thus far, a likelihood of being moved into more challenging circumstances sooner than the norm would probably happen.

Billy Sass-Davies (Crewe Alexandra)
After joining Crewe as a scholar before the start of last season, Billy played well enough in his youth team appearances to eventually earn some playing time in the U-23 team. Coaches must have been impressed with his talent and application in order for it to happen and he must have continued in the same vein during this latest pre-season as he has been on the bench for the first team in all three of the matches contested to this point. Crewe’s record for producing some good players stretches back a good many years and their general policy has been one of an early introduction to League football when considered worthy. Though he has not yet been called upon, his presence in the matchday squad must indicate that they have every confidence in him should the need arise. It would seem, that a first team debut will occur soon, especially when the EFL Trophy matches will start being played next month.

When young schoolboy football stars move on to the next phase as they attempt to pursue a career in the game, there are many intangibles associated with the progress that could possibly be achieved. Even a lengthy list would probably not address all scenarios. It is far from an easy task that confronts even the more gifted of the candidates, potential pitfalls that can derail a career have to be negotiated and overcome when avoidance is not possible. This is not too different from the life of most youngsters where it is the result of wise decisions, and then sometimes encountering lucky breaks that determine whether a successful future is viable. As the aim towards the pinnacle of achievement is sought, so the demands on the best attributes possessed become greater. We shall have to wait and see if my decision to propose a rosy future for these four will be verified.

Next week will be the start of weekly updates of current events and I will try to be more succinct in describing the relevant details. The lengthy efforts I have constructed so far do, I am sure, require patient reading to reach the eventual end. My hope is to inform and provide material for discussion. Let’s look forward to what we hope will be a great season for Welsh football.


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Posted: Tuesday 15th August 2017
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