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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Dylan Thomas
    Here are a few lines on something I have just become aware of and would like to mention as a lead into the remainder of what I have written for this week. Dylan is a young man whose progress in the football world I have monitored since his days as a Wales schoolboy player. After time as a scholar at Swansea, he signed on with Aberdeen, spending his next couple of years at Pittordie. There he captained their U-20 side as well as spending the second half of last season on loan at Montrose. This, as well as international honours at U-17 and U-19 level point out he is an accomplished player. At this moment, he is at a loose end in his football career, his contract at Aberdeen having expired. If anyone should read this and be in a position to mention his name to a club that could benefit from his services, I am sure he would be most grateful, as he wishes to continue in the profession. I was very lucky in my working career along with being also very thankful, that the help of other people moved me along in a time that I enjoyed immensely. I am sure that Dylan is motivated and will be dedicated and determined to succeed when presented with the next opportunity. Thanks in advance for any help.

    This week, it is time to discuss the young players who have made the greatest impact during the early part of the season. At this point and as one tries to project forward, these are the young men who it would seem will be influential in the outcome of the composition as well as the competitiveness of the Wales senior team in the coming months and years. A statement of forecasting needs to be treated with an amount of skepticism when provided and this one should be accepted accordingly. When peeking into the future, be it weather, economy, commodities or whatever, it is done with a projection mainly based on an average of past events and only somewhere near correct a portion of the time. I do believe though, that even allowing for the probability of an incorrect summation on my part, there is enough of a reason for us to possess an optimistic outlook when thinking of what might be the path forward for Welsh international football.

    Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea)
    With his first team debut at his new club having just occurred, Ethan's name is likely to be increasingly a part of the mainstream sports news projections to the public at large in future. Having seamlessly entered the game as a substitute amongst an array of highly valued talent as team mates, it is easy to guess that further opportunities will soon be presented to him, quickly adding to the present solitary appearance on his resume. Another assumption is that he will do likewise when his debut as a Welsh senior international occurs.

    David Brooks (Sheffield United)
    Another player that is adding familiarity of his name in the general football loving public domain. Impressive displays for his club team have gathered numerous positive press reviews, a situation that is of little surprise once I had a viewing of his obvious quality. It will only add to the pressure he will face as I am sure his fellow county inhabitants will be probably implore him not to forsake an allegiance to the country of his birth, rather than perform in front of those who render such a magnificent sound of "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" being voiced so passionately.

    Mitch Clark (Aston Villa)
    Though there were indications as he played numerous times at U-23 level for the club last season whilst still a scholar, it is still an impressive feat that Mitch is now pushing hard for first team playing time at Villa. With fund availability that has allowed the formation of a very strong and large squad of high quality, his competition for recognition is fierce and should not be underestimated. His manager, having been in the company of some acclaimed young talent in the teams he was part of for a large portion of his playing career will have a strong knowledge in assessing emerging talent. With the objective set by his employers to regain Premier League status, he has to balance that aim with the need to be as prepared as possible to have the basics of a squad that can at least consolidate if the goal is achieved. It would seem to me that Mitch falls into the category of one he deems fit for that purpose and it is a case of trying to get him as acclimatized as possible to such demands. Quite a feather in the young man's cap if I perceive the situation correctly.

    Cameron Coxe and Mark Harris (Cardiff City)
    Under the guidance of an experienced manager whose lengthy career has seen him gain many noteworthy successes, these two young men have impressed enough to be considered as potential first team players at Cardiff this season. With the team amongst the front runners as we approach the end of the first quarter of the season, the tendency going forward is probably for experience in preference to potential. This is not a negative judgement, acknowledging the required trend most likely to gain promotion is a more apt description. Added to that can be a statement that whatever minutes Cameron and Mark amass during the months ahead will have been rightly and deservedly earned. A good sign for Welsh football.

    Rabbi Matondo and Matt Smith (Manchester City)
    Both Rabbi and Matt are ahead of the curve in terms of what might have been projected as their path in football progression, even with the inclusion of high expectancy based on the undoubted talent they exhibited as schoolboy players. Regular involvement at U-23 level of play is certainly impressive credentials for players in their age bracket. This can be further defined by stating it has been achieved at a club that has a world class environment at all levels and so the peer group is assembled with only the highest quality possible being sought. Though they are still in the beginnings of their journey toward possible stardom and one where the obstacles before getting there are numerous and very difficult to negotiate, one has to congratulate their present situation, adding that they must be extremely motivated as well as supremely talented. They will I am sure be well aware, that only a continued application of their utmost dedication and determination can keep them moving forward at this accelerated pace toward the fulfillment of a successful career.

    Tyler Roberts (West Bromwich Albion on loan at Walsall)
    Having proved that League One competitive capability is well within his means previously, his parent club must not have been able to negotiate an acceptable loan assignment at Championship level for Tyler. First team football with Walsall was therefore deemed the most appropriate choice in a continuation of his development. First team football on a regular basis at the Hawthorns does not seem too far away is my opinion. We shall see if my deduction of events is correct.

    Joe Rodon (Swansea City)
    I found it somewhat surprising that Joe was not included in the matchday Carabao Cup squad. Accepted, it would have most likely been bench time only, but this is often how Premier League managers give encouragement to promising young players as well as providing a little amount of experience of first team matchday conditions. Granted, it is a steep learning curve to move from U-23 to first team football at Swansea, but other prominent clubs certainly seem to rate Joe's capability if I have understood comments I have seen correctly. In my very limited first hand assessment, having attended a match he played 12 months or so ago and viewed a couple of matches he has played in since that time, my judgement has changed from one of an interesting potential originally to that of being quite a bit more than that by this time, his progress making him a dominant central defender against good opposition in the instances I saw him perform. It may well be that Swansea management agree with the assessment, but the need to use other alternatives were more pressing at the time.

    Harry Wilson and Ben Woodburn (Liverpool)
    Harry is back, having been hampered by injury in pre-season and only very recently fully recovered. Subsequently returning to the Liverpool U-23 team line-up, he has continued in the same fashion as when he had enhanced his reputation quite markedly last season. Then he was the leading scorer by a large margin as well as providing a good amount of often important assists whilst captaining the U-23 team. Lately he has been in even more prolific goal scoring form, a match ball garnering hattrick the performance produced in his most recent game. A continuance of similar feats will trigger the thoughts of Liverpool management toward the need of posing more challenging opportunities for him in some way. I will not speculate any further. Ben Woodburn, I really need not say more. His name is surely prominent in the curriculum of football conversations in every part of the land as well as in some international circles and so whatever I may add is probably redundant. I make mention of him here as acknowledgement that in principle he still falls into the category of young guns, though he has far surpassed the use of this format as an informative article.

    I seem to have made up for the brevity of the past couple of offerings. Quite an array of talent to comment upon and consequently my ability to be concise was severely challenged. Hopefully it has been an enjoyable read. Even though this is a considerable list of names that I have presented, they are by no means alone in what I think are potential future senior international players. Certainly, these have to be considered as the icing on the cake but the cake itself has good substance to it as well and it won't particularly surprise me if in time others become icing type material as it were.     

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    Posted: Tuesday 26th September 2017
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