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    Young Guns Blog by John Jones.

    Oliver Denham (Manchester United)
    Oliver signed on as a scholar at Old Trafford in the summer and seems to have settled in well to his new life in full time football. He has already appeared on the bench a few times for the U-18 team and made his debut when introduced at the start of the second half in their recent U-18 Premier League Cup match. Quite a noteworthy achievement, as the competition for matchday involvement is intense, not only by virtue of the club having a large squad to choose from but also a recruitment policy of seeking the highest level of talent. He is also one of the youngest in the group, still short by some weeks of reaching the halfway point between his 16th and 17th birthdays. Unfortunately for Oliver, his first time of participation for the youth team only lasted a part of the half as he had to be replaced because of an injury sustained.

    Eli King (Cardiff City)
    This is the third season in which Eli has made appearances for the Cardiff City youth team and he will potentially have two more seasons of eligibility to do so. He was in fact still not old enough to sign on as a scholar for them this season. Very unusual circumstances for one so young and usually a situation that is associated with the most talented of youngsters at any club, most rising to prominence in higher levels of football in their teenage years. Whether it will apply in this case remains to be seen and as in every facet of life there are always exceptions to the rule, so there can be no assumption of its eventuality. Even though Cardiff have had quite a young average for its youth team, it does seem to indicate that Eli has to this point shown a level of ability that is above that of his peers. Now, it appears as though it is a case of him focusing the maximum of his determination and dedication in developing improvements to his game, so as to continue his rapid rise toward possible first team involvement at the Cardiff City Stadium club.

    Daniel Malone (Stoke City)
    Having been in the matchday squads and making one substitute appearance for the Stoke City youth team last season, Daniel signed on as a scholar for the club prior to the start of this one. He has already been a part of the team for most games so far this season and has been in the starting line up three times. It would seem that he is therefore making good progress and it is an expectation that he becomes an increasingly significant player for the team over time. A midfield player, it would not only please the Potters fans but his countryfolk as well, if he can develop his skills well enough to eventually become a first team player at the club.

    David Robson (Hull City)
    David was associated with SPL club Hearts when he first came to the notice of Wales fans when his selection for the international schoolboy squad was announced. Hull City then negotiated his transfer to join them as a scholar and he is now in his first season in that capacity. Not only has he played a couple of times and been on the bench for numerous other games for the U-18 team, he has been similarly utilized for U-23 games. This would seem to be an indication that the club have been very impressed by his ability in the relatively short time he has been with them. Hopefully he will continue to do so and produce displays that will see him represent the club at first team level in the seasons ahead.

    Will Russ (Leicester City)
    Leicester inserted Will in their U-18 team very soon after obtaining his transfer from Chesterfield. With all due respect to his previous club, it is a move that could provide a great benefit if Will is able to progress into a career as a professional footballer. He will now be both assisted and opposed by higher quality players and it will give him the awareness of the skills he must develop in order to survive the attrition that occurs to many youth players. Leicester do have a reasonably good record in terms of developing young talent and so in this respect Will has made a good decision to join them. Now will come the hard work to hone his abilities and an attempt to garner success in the game.

    Jamie Taylor (Bristol City)
    Having made a combined, either starting or substitute appearances which totaled more than a third of the U-18 games last season, which was additive to more than a handful of ones off the bench the previous one, Jamie was finally able to sign on as a scholar with Bristol City this summer. As would be expected, he has been a regular member of the side this term and has also added a few games of experience in U-23 football as well. He also represented Wales in schoolboy internationals during the past 2 seasons and so his resume so far is an indication of the high quality of his football ability. The Ashton Gate club have quite a large number of young Welsh players at present, though with their proximity to the border it is not totally surprising. Communication from the Welsh FA has been quite frequent of late in regard to call ups for the national under age teams, hopefully in time there will ones for the national senior side as well.

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