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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Joe Adams (Bury)
    It has been quite a remarkable few months for young Joe since completing his school studies in the summer and then joining Bury on a fulltime basis prior to the start of this season. He soon established himself as an integral part of the U-18 team and performed well enough for recognition at international level as a member of the Wales U-17 team last autumn. A good run in the FA Youth Cup saw the U-18 team progress all the way to the 5th round before they were eliminated from the competition. A result of good performances has seen Joe and other members of the team challenged with occasional U-23 team appearances for the club. This was good reason for him to celebrate his recent 17th birthday with a feeling that his progress so far could be regarded in a very positive manner. He can now add to this with an appearance as a substitute for the last quarter of the club's successful Lancashire Senior Cup semi-final encounter as well as being called up to the Wales U-19 squad that will compete in friendly matches against Croatia in the next few days. The team selected for the semi-final match was quite a strong one, containing quite a few players with plenty of first team experience. This may be a sign that consideration for Joe to be involved in the first team squad for league matches may be somewhere on the horizon.

    Jordan Davies (Brighton and Hove Albion)
    After being used only sparingly during the first half of the season, Jordan has been used on a more frequent basis in the Brighton U-23 team during the last couple of months. I have no knowledge as to whether there were injury issues that contributed to his limited use, but it is good to see him having more opportunity to gain experience lately. After gaining quite a lot of attention through his performances in the Welsh Premier League his subsequent transfer from Wrexham to the south coast club saw some predictions that he was certainly capable of making a good career in the game. Of course, it was a big step forward, made even more challenging as Brighton were promoted to the Premier League giving them the extra finances to strengthen the first team squad. Jordan has not yet reached the occasion of his 20th birthday and so has time on his side to develop his game and successfully transition toward first team involvement at the club. It will be far from an easy task, as Brighton are almost assured of another season of Premier League competition and so will come further recruitment of players to attempt to consolidate their status for a longer term stay at the top. On the converse side is that Jordan will be in the company of better players and therefore an exposure to their quality and the practice habits they adopt in order to be a success.

    Ryan Sears (Shrewsbury Town on loan at Newtown)

    After impressing as a youth team player, Ryan signed a full time professional contract with Shrewsbury prior to the start of this season. A loan agreement between his club and that of his home town one has resulted in him plying his trade and gaining valuable first team experience in the Welsh Premier League. It is a situation that he has taken full advantage of, making the left full back position in the team his own as he has impressed many that have watched him with good performances. Though Newtown's league form has been mediocre, they have done well in the Welsh Cup and now await a semi-final tie versus Aberystwyth. Though it is quite a step up in quality from the Welsh Premier to EFL League 1 or the Championship where Shrewsbury may be operating next season, it is one that has been successfully negotiated and Ryan may add his name to the list of those who have done so. Undoubtedly, it is his aim to do so, but he would be equally pleased in the short term to help Newtown become Welsh Cup winners and provide a medal for his personal collection as well.

    Ryan Stirk (Birmingham City)

    It was the Birmingham U-18 containing Ryan that triumphed over Bury in the 5th round of the FA Youth Cup. Having been successful in the following round as well they now find themselves awaiting a semi-final tie against the holders of the trophy, Chelsea. It will be a formidable task to reach the final for midlands youths as Chelsea are not only the trophy holders but are poised to win it for a fifth consecutive time and for seven of the last nine seasons if they do retain it. Added to this is a need for Birmingham to play well for 2 matches as the format now moves to home and away ties as well as facing opposition that plays their league matches one level above their status. After being a member of the U-18 squad on an occasional basis as a schoolboy, Ryan has been a regular member of the team this season, having started his scholar contract at the club last summer. Continuing his association with the Wales national teams, he has now moved up to U-19 level after representation with the schoolboy and U-17 teams in previous seasons. With the U-19 squad still to be announced, one assumes that Ryan will be one of those travelling to Croatia as he was selected for the autumn matches, though unable to attend. At the club, he will be anxious to get some chances to test himself in U-23 competition as soon as possible, hoping to shine in that scenario and press toward first team involvement for the Blues.

    Daniel Williams and Shaquille Wynter-Coles (Swansea City)
    The Swansea U-18 team are enjoying another season that has been a reasonable success as they compete against the best group at this level and have done well enough to be in the upper half of the league table as the campaign moves into its final quarter. Both Daniel and Shaquille have appeared, either starting or as substitutes, in more than half of the team's games this season, suggesting that they have made an impact as first year scholars. It is credit to the club's philosophy of continually improving their developmental programme over the last few years. It gives their young players a platform of being tested against the best opposition available and experiencing the quality of play necessary to develop their games as they attempt to forge a career in the game.

    [photo embedded from csakfoci.hu]

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    Posted: Wednesday 14th March 2018
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