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    YOUNG GUNS BLOG UPDATE


    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Ryan Astley (Everton)
    A report on a recent Everton U-23 match singled out Ryan as a star performer in the game even though it was his debut at that level of play. His manager in fact stated that it was a display that he believed worthy of being nominated as man of the match. For a youngster who has only celebrated his 16th birthday in the latter months of 2017 and so involved in a scenario where some team mates and opponents were up to 6 or 7 years his senior, this can be regarded as a statement of undoubted praise. I had noticed Ryan's increasing involvement in the U-18's as he began making regular appearances for them in the preceding weeks, my interest being in how his footballing life was evolving. Following on from a stellar schoolboy career he was made captain of the Wales U-17 team in their autumn matches. I am sure he will be amongst the new scholars whom Everton will employ as part of their development system prior to the start of next season, having been too young for eligibility to do so last summer. An agreement is most likely already in place for him to do so, this is a guess on my part and have no confirmation of it. Expectations will now be considerably raised, his profile amongst those previously somewhat aware of his circumstances increased and probably now a name familiar to many other fans. Everton are considered to have an excellent reputation in producing players who eventually benefit the quality of their first team squad and Toffees fans will be hoping another has been unearthed in this case. Wales fans will be equally delighted with such an outcome. The quality of his skills is obviously very good and yet there will be plenty of testing times ahead. He will need all the resolve present in his character, if he is to overcome even tougher challenges that will be posed for positive outcomes to prevail in a climb up the ladder of success. Undoubtedly, we congratulate him for his achievements and offer our support unequivocally for the future.

    Matty Barnes and Callum James (Bolton Wanderers)
    With only a very few games remaining, the Bolton U-18 team are the league leaders of the tier 2 development league northern section competition. They are favourites to claim the league title of that group and move on to the play offs for the overall championship. Matty, a first-year scholar at the club has been a regular member of the team throughout the season, a constant contribution of goals helping the team in what has been a successful season. Callum, I believe, has been an addition to the pool of youths at Wanderers at around the turn of the year and made a number of appearances between the sticks since that time. Neither of these young men has gained representative honours for Wales but were amongst the groups assembled for national training camps during their schoolboy days. A continuation in the improvement of their skills could possibly produce an invitation for a return to national squads in the future.

    Connor Davies and Trystan Jones (Cardiff City)
    Two young players who have almost certainly pleased the management staff at Cardiff as they look to continue the tradition of developing future international players through their youth system at the club. In terms of a wider audience they are probably a couple of the lesser celebrated members of the club's U-18 team, having not received any national attention. A look at the appearance statistics for the season shows them to have been involved in almost all the team's games and so must be well appreciated by Craig Bellamy and his coaches. The majority of Cardiff' U-18 team has consisted of first year scholars throughout the season and with that in mind it has produced largely satisfactorily results. A more experienced team to be featured next season will be the most likely consequence of these two young men and those presently in that status of further eligibility being strong challengers for retention in the side. Listed as defenders in their profile, neither seems to be shy about making approaches toward their opponent's part of the field as they have contributed some goals for the team. Connor does seem to have been given a more forward role in some games if my interpretation is correct. I have been intrigued for most of the season that Connor's birthdate is given as being in 2002. This must be incorrect, as it would not have allowed him to be part of the scholar intake at the club last summer if it was so. Hopefully this group of youngsters will continue with progression in their skills and eventually provide some who can challenge for first team inclusion.

    Daniel Hawkins (Hull City)
    Having joined the Tiger's youths last summer, Daniel has rewarded the club scouting department's assessment of his ability, by being a regular inclusion in their U-18 team since the start of the season. An attacking winger who not only provides opportunities for his teammates to score but also adds his name to the goal scoring statistics in some games. He may well be someone, club fans with an eye towards the future maybe hoping he can bring an amount of joy for them as they watch in the stands. At present they are being treated to some pleasurable moments by a Welsh winger who is assigned to first team duty with the club, a result of a loan arrangement. Assist and goals have contributed to a changing fortune in results in the past few weeks, this abating a great fear of consecutive relegation seasons. If Daniel could emulate such feats in the years ahead, he would certainly be lauded by those who support the North Sea coast side. Daniel was I am sure encouraged by his inclusion on the bench for a recent game categorized as being an U-23 match. This should give him the incentive to diligently work at expanding the range of his skills to ensure further such call ups, making the possibility of first team exposure that much closer an event.

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