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    Young Guns update


    Young Guns by John Jones.
    Cameron Coxe (Cardiff City)
    Captain of the Cardiff U-18 side, Cameron is considered to be very strong defensively in his full back role as well as being ideal for how the position is often used these days. He shows no hesitancy when the opportunity arises to add his presence down the wing in an attacking role whenever his team possesses the ball in the opposition half. Now a member of the Wales U-19 squad, he has progressed through the various national age groups, usually as a member of the starting team and it would not be all that surprising to see him continue the trend in the years ahead. This season will be his last with eligibility for both the Cardiff U-18 and Wales U-19 teams and it is anticipated he will then be incorporated into the club U-23 squad. Undoubtedly it will be the toughest challenge in his developing career as he will face increased competition for game time and similarly so at national level, but with the continuation of determination and dedication to develop his skills it would be hard to bet against his ability to succeed.

    Fergal Hale-Brown (Norwich City)
    The incumbent goalkeeper for the club’s U-18 team even though it is his first year as a scholar and has helped them gain some impressive results at times. Having lost some of its influential players the team is not as strong as it has been over the last couple of seasons but is still quite competitive against strong opposition and so a good test of Fergal’s quality. This has been recognized at national level as he was apparently invited to join in with the U-19 squad for a training camp, although not named in the original group of players selected.

    Mark Harris (Cardiff City)
    Mark is another Cardiff player who is both a member of their U-18 team as well as being included in the Wales U-19 squad. He is also having a good season to this point and though the recognition of his strength is as a tricky winger who can put pressure on defences, he has been regularly adding goal scoring to his repertoire, a facet of the game that provides excellent value for a team. As with Cameron, showing the same sort of form for the remainder of the season will likely result in an offer of a full-time contract. Also, similarly, it would signal the start of a very challenging part of his career, but certainly one that could be answered successfully with a continuation of the ability to score goals very much an important piece of skill that could propel him up the ladder of achievement.

    Tom Leggett (Aston Villa)
    Tom negotiated his way through the very successful Southampton academy, becoming part of their U-19 team during that time. He was however not retained at the conclusion of that part of his career and so came the move to become a member of the Aston Villa development squad. Now in his third year at the club, he has been a regular starting member of the U-21/U-23 teams without ever getting involved with the first team on match days. There must however be a good regard for his talent as others have come and gone in the meantime. Predominantly a right full back, he can also operate adequately on the left side of the defence when needed, a good option to include in his resume. With Villa desperate to regain their Premier League status, the natural reaction of management is to rely on experience and so it is difficult to see him change his first team chances any time soon. Even if a decision to evaluate the potential of younger players is considered, there would be strong competition from others, Mitchell Clark already mentioned a few weeks ago, would certainly be a candidate in this regard. He has made numerous appearances for the U-23 team this season though still eligible for the U-18 side. Tom is still young enough to be available for selection when the Wales U-21 squad begins its next foray at European qualification starting next year, but is also getting closer to the critical stage of his career when it is necessary to prove that he is capable of regular first team football at some level.

    Josh Sheehan (Swansea City – on loan at Newport County)
    Josh blossomed as a talented footballer when involved with the Swansea youth team and continued in the same manner as he moved on to U-21 football. As a result, he was soon in demand as a loan player and in this way showed that he was adept at League 1 level. Many anticipated that there would soon be involvement with the Swansea first team at that time, but circumstances proved otherwise. Presumably, due to injuries, Josh missed a lot of game time in the last couple of seasons and it has led to somewhat of a stutter in his progress. Undoubtedly a skilled player, his slightly smaller stature does not prevent him from being industrious and competitive in the midfield area in which he operates and the early part of this season has seen him move his career in a positive direction once more. Having fared quite well in the Wales U-21 side as well as the Swansea U-23 team, he was acquired on loan by Newport and made his first start last week having previously appeared as substitute. Josh and the other players there will need to be close to their best if Newport are to successfully move away from their present bottom spot and retain their Football League status.

    Max Smallcombe (Exeter City)
    I was remiss in not giving Max a mention a few weeks ago when he made his first team debut for the club in their Checktrade Trophy match against Oxford. He was again involved with the team this past midweek as they beat a young Chelsea team in the same competition. He was named on the bench this time and did not get any game time under his belt. His regular playing assignment is for the club’s youth team and so these selections for the first team games show that the management team value him highly enough to believe that both club and player will benefit by getting him acclimatized to some amount of first team football already.

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    Posted: Wednesday 26th October 2016
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