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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Arlen Birch and Jamie Thomas (Burnley)

    Two young men who are probably part way through a season which may well define how their football careers will develop in the future. Arlen, captain of the clubs U-23 team is Welsh by birth, but his main loyalty is directed toward England and has in fact represented the country at schoolboy and youth level. Until he became ineligible through gaining further honour as a senior International, his birth status allows him to be theoretically available for selection in a Wales squad at any point in the future. Whether he would contemplate such an offer is most likely even a proposition that he could not answer until that point in time, were it to occur. For the present his emphasis will be club football and an aim to show the Burnley management team that he can be of value to them in first team football circumstances. Jamie is also a part of the U-23 squad at Turf Moor, his contribution to that team coming in a mixture of starts and appearances off the bench. A loan period in Scottish football last season gave him some taste of first team football with Ayr United. He played a number of times for the Wales U-19 team and contributed scoring goals for them as he had done as a youth player at Bolton.

    Ryan Broom (Bristol Rovers)
    Ryan has been a Rovers player for a number of years, singing a professional contract with them at the completion of his time as youth player there a couple of seasons ago. He has mostly been involved with the developmental team during that subsequent time, interrupted by a couple of loan periods in non league football in his initial season. Earlier this season, a brace of goals scored in an EFL Trophy match saw him get on the scoresheet for the initial time in first team play. The majority of his first team appearances, now into double figures, have occurred as an appearance off the bench, although he has been named in the matchday squad on numerous other occasions without being used.

    Charley Edge, Daniel Jeffries and Eli Phipps (Colchester United)
    A trio of players regarded as members of the U-23s rather than the first team squad at the club and trying to find a means of impressing enough to transition into that more desired status.     Charley, now in his 3rd season as a United player was on the first team bench for quite a few games during the second half of last season, only making 1 appearance as a late substitute. Eli, signed from Cardiff in January after his release from that club, a good goal scoring record as a youth and on loan in non league football tempted them to take him onboard as a prospect. He is at present out on loan. A former Swan, Dan finished his time as a schoolboy and youth at the Liberty Stadium in the summer and has been given the opportunity to extend his career by the Us. After being a regular in the U-23s in the early season he has been absent of late, it may be possibly due to injury, I do not know the reason.

    Connor Lemonheigh-Evans (Bristol City)
    In a career that has often mirrored that of Joe Morrell, Connor and he were teammates as Wales schoolboy and U-17 internationals. Both signed scholar forms at the club in January 2013, progressing through the youth system and signing on as full time professionals as a tandem. They have been separated at times as they attended their loan assignments away from the U-23 team, but have played together during the last few years much more often than not. Im sure that Connor is delighted that Joe has grabbed the chance of first team football at Cheltenham in fine style and will be hoping that there could be a similar scenario that may unfold for him.

    Billy Reeves (Port Vale)
    I must admit that it is only in very recent times that I have become aware of Billy, a player who has been in the first team squad at Vale Park for quite an amount of time. Seemingly with the Valiants as a youth player, he is now in his 3rd season on full time terms upon completion of that time. A number of loan arrangements occurred prior to him being very much a regular first team contributor during the second half of last season. He has been intermittently involved this season as the team now tries to recover from a very difficult start that led to a management change.

    Some names probably unfamiliar to most as this weeks emphasis was placed on young men still trying to establish a positive progression in their football careers. Not an easy task by any means, as they must convert the skills they possess in a manner that ensures a continuation of their employment. They are part of the contingent of Welsh qualified players in the Premier and Football Leagues that number over 140 strong, a number that is larger than at any time in the great many years I have monitored such a statistic. This is a compilation of those basically older than 18 years of age at the start of the season, not inclusive of the half a century or so of those still eligible to play youth football for their clubs.
        The departure of Chris Coleman as manager of the Wales senior team is the issue that has the attention of the fans at present. Rightly so, the plaudits have been accordingly forthcoming and though there was a disappointing conclusion in the World Cup finals quest, an expression of regret at the termination of the association has been a feature. Chris always maintained a wish to return to club management and so that tug was ever present, maybe this was the perfect time for a parting of the ways for both sides. There is a great deal to be optimistic about as one looks into the future, however, the decision of the FAW on who guides the process forward is one that cannot be taken lightly. There is some amount of vociferous opinion in that respect, but if results can be maintained in positive fashion, any other issues will quickly fade. Candidates, I am sure, will be aplenty, it is a desirable appointment for a great many, suitable ones are probably of a much fewer number. Maybe I will add to these comments when the vacant position is filled, until such a time, I will just offer a salute to all the fans who I am sure only have the best interests for Welsh football at heart.

    [photo embedded from faw,cymru]

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