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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Joe Morrell (Bristol City on loan at Cheltenham Town)
    I must start by uttering a great big "well done" in Joe's direction. A few weeks ago, I wrote some words about him, part of it saying that it was hoped he could capitalize on any opportunity that might be available for him, one that it was seemingly he deserved. It was admittedly a wishful hope for him on my part but did coincide with the loan arrangement that has given him first team football opportunities at Cheltenham. In some way, I am tardy in adding this update as he produced a man of the match performance in his initial appearance at Whaddon Road. Now, as we have a bigger body of work to evaluate, it can be said that he has continued making a good impression and in fact scored his first senior football goal in the latest match, quite a spectacular one to be witnessing apparently. A standby nominee for the previous U-21 squad and although I have not seen it noted, it must be likewise for the recently announced one. A great encouragement for the team management to know they have such talented replacement candidates if required and must be something of a pleasing headache for them when going through the selection process, such is the quality and quantity of available players at this level. Back to Joe, congratulations young man, long may your success continue. An additional note before this gets on its way to Neil. Joe is now part of the Wales U-21 squad that will play its next qualifying match in Liechtenstein on Thursday, good luck to both him and the team.

    Moving along to what is the intended main emphasis of what I have for you to digest this week. It is directed toward a few of the many first year scholars who are still in the early weeks of adjusting to the fact that they have concluded their school attendance days and are now into a life of fulltime football along with the academic provisions their clubs make available for their continuing education opportunities. Hopefully they can benefit from both scenarios, a means by which they can make their future adult life enjoyable, no matter what direction it ultimately proceeds along.

    Lewis Collins and Jay Foulston (Newport County)
    Lewis is following in the footsteps of brother Aaron, the start of his footballing life being in the colours of the Rodney Parade team. He is doing well, as the selection for the Wales U-17 squad that will soon be on its way to Hungary for the Uefa group qualifying matches shows. Jay is only a few weeks older than Lewis but his birthdate in late 2000 prevents him being eligible for U-17 selection. He did impress Newport manager Mike Flynn quite markedly during the pre-season summer preparations, consequently being promoted to first team training involvement in order to enhance his development. A brief appearance as a substitute in the first round of the Carabao cup game gave him the honour of being the third youngest first team debutant in the club's history.

    George Ratcliffe and Ryan Reynolds (Cardiff City)
    Two young players who are members of the Wales U-19 squad and regular members in the Cardiff U-18 team this season having started their scholarship tenure at the capital club this past summer. Though faced with stiff competition, George has established himself as the first choice keeper at the club and seems to be doing likewise with the national team. Ryan who is primarily a defender, has the ability to operate further upfield as well and this versatility may serve him well. He was associated with Everton throughout his schoolboy days before his recent move to Cardiff.

    Ryan Stirk (Birmingham City)
    Ryan is another whose birthdate in the latter months of 2000 means that he started the next chapter of his life, that of being a full-time footballer this season. A regular member of the Blue's U-18 team this season, but in many ways a familiar experience for him as he has played some amount of part in the team since his days as a 15 year old. He will, I am sure be keen to test his skills against strong opposition and will get an opportunity for this scenario with involvement in the Wales U-19 friendly matches against Switzerland, soon to be played at Rhyl.

    Jack Vale (Blackburn Rovers)
    A 2001 birthdate gives Jack eligibility to represent Wales at U-17 level and has been selected for the upcoming tournament in Hungary. He has, however, a taste of U-19 international football as he was in the squad that competed against Iceland a few weeks ago. Jack is a product of the TNS academy system before his move to Blackburn and it is good to see that the development system of a Welsh Premier club is a productive environment for aspiring footballers. Jack has already established a regular place in the Blackburn U-18 team and there seems to be a desire by the coaching staff at the club to expose him to some U-23 competition already, despite his tender age.

    This is very much a brief overview on these boys. With some years of both mental and physical development still to be realized, along with an adaptability to the new challenges in their lives, it would be unfair to provide comment other than using a general reference. At this point it can be stated that they have started the path toward the future in a successful mode. The skills that they obviously possess will need to be continually refined as they face an ever increasing competitive environment of survival as a professional footballer. All one can do is wish them the best of luck in their efforts and at least hope they can avoid circumstances that derail promising careers or at least delay them and often prevent the realization of a development to the fullest potential.

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    Posted: Tuesday 3rd October 2017
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