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To read all last season blog posts scroll through posts on the young guns page
Owen Bevan (AFC Bournemouth), born 2003, Defender. This season, Owen is a first year scholar at Bournemouth after having been in an associated schoolboy status with the club for most of the last decade. An indication that the coaching staff at the club have an extremely positive opinion of his abilities is provided by his insertion as a starter in U-21 games on numerous occasions as well as playing regularly for the club’s U-18 team. Though only a few weeks past his seventeenth birthday, they must believe he has both the skills and temperament to warrant being challenged at this next development step. Although there are still many obstacles that need overcoming in order to achieve such a progression, he has certainly started well in his aim at eventual first team involvement. As a local lad, it would also bring extra delight to the fans should he do so. It is not only at club level that Owen has been gaining valuable experience over recent seasons. He has also played against international opposition when representing Wales. Recruited to join the Wales schoolboy teams as soon as he was old enough to do so, he played in a number of games for the team in that category and last season moved up to represent the nation at U-17 level. He was selected in the squad for the elite qualifying round of the UEFA U-17 competition which was eventually cancelled last spring after having had to withdraw through injury from the squad that successfully negotiated the preliminary qualification stage.
Callum Brain (Newport County), born 2003, Goalkeeper. After being on the bench for the first two EFL Trophy matches the team played this season, Callum was given a starting assignment for the third and last group match and his place in the team produced his first team debut for Newport. Quite an occasion to remember for him I am sure, one that he hopes can be repeated. A second year scholar with County, he has been the regular choice goalkeeper for their U-18 team for both seasons, helping the team progress to the third round of the FA Youth Cup last season before they were eliminated in a narrow defeat by eventual semi-finalists in the competition Blackburn Rovers. This season, they have again made it through to that stage and Callum will again be facing top class opponents as they are due to play Tottenham Hotspurs in a couple of weeks. His hope will be to do well and continue doing so for the remainder of the season as the management team at the club decide whether to offer him a professional contract to remain a part of the playing squad next season. After writing this a day prior, I saw that the youth cup match was played, and Newport were eliminated. Callum was not involved in the game, apparently unavailable for selection.
Caleb Hughes (Cardiff City), born 2003, Midfielder. Appearing in almost all of the games the Cardiff U-18 team has played so far this season, Caleb is obviously considered an important player as he settles in to being a first year scholar at the club. His contribution of scoring four goals in the games that have been played also gives an indication of his value to the team. The coaching staff must also have confidence in the progression of his development as they have also given him some exposure to U-23 team demands, he has played twice for that team as well. Caleb has played for Wales teams at schoolboy level and was also a member of last season’s U-17 squad that successfully progressed from the preliminary stage qualification round of that age group UEFA competition. It does seem increasingly unlikely that age grade international competitions will be played this season and so Caleb will want to continue his good club form and be in contention for selection whenever it is decided that such matches can safely resume.
Joe Porton (Bristol City), born 2003, Midfielder. Now in his second season as a scholar with the club, Joe has been playing for both the Bristol City U-18 and U-23 teams lately. Unfortunately, information, for U-18 team games in particular, is rather sparse in the locations I generally view and so the best I can say is that I assume that he played regularly for the U-18 team last season. Playing for the U-23’s this season is certainly a positive sign and hopefully he will continue to be regularly involved with the team during the second half of the season as a decision looms as to whether the club will retain his services past the completion of his scholar days. I have him listed as a midfielder but have also seen that he can play in a defensive role as well. Joe started playing for Wales teams when selected for a squad that competed in an U-16 tournament in the latter part of the 2018/19 season. Last season he was a member of the U-17 national squad, helping the team win through the preliminary qualification stage of the UEFA competition and would have been a member of the squad competing in the elite round tournament had it been played.
Cian Williams (Swansea City), born 2003, Defender. Affiliated with Wrexham as a schoolboy, Cian played for Wales teams during that time including being a member of the squad for the 2018/19 Victory Shield tournament. Swansea negotiated for him to join their scholar programme and he signed for them a few weeks after the start of last season. He did not immediately play for the U-18 team as there had to be a wait until the January 2020 transfer window to have the move officially ratified. He played regularly for the U-18 team after this time but of course there were only a few games before football came to a halt. He has played regularly for the U-18’s this season and will be hoping to build his experience as the next step in his career is decided. Cian’s association with Wales teams has been a regular occurrence, with selection for all the previously mentioned squads that competed at U-16 and U-17 levels. His ambition is, I am sure, to continue collecting national caps in the succeeding levels of competition, his club career will have been a successful one if he does so.
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