During the last week the county saw a number of new U18s teams being registered in the Cheltenham Youth Floodlit League and here at Severn Sport we like to look to the future as much as possible, so Ryan Butler has taken a look at the u18s players to watch in the 2020/21 season.
When looking at who makes the list, I decided to look at players who competed at U18s level during the expunged 2019/20 season – they may not necessarily be playing for an U18s side in the new season (whenever that may be) but they qualify due to last season’s participation.
Also it is worth noting that I haven’t limited the list to just the CYFL but have also included Gloucester City U18s, who compete in the Midland Floodlit Youth League.
And I have deliberately not included any player who was nominated for a Severn Sport End of Season Award, meaning that George Callinan, Niall Priday, Jacob Waddington and Leighton Tuodolo are honorable mentions.
So here are my players to watch:
Owen Giles (Slimbridge U18s) – Giles is a player I like a lot from what I have seen. A tall and commanding centre half who has the ability to play a pass and bring it out from the back is a great commodity. A student at Hartpury and a plethora of knowledge at such a young age!
Kian Gardiner (Slimbridge U18s) – Gardiner is a tricky winger who has shown his ability going forward on a number of occasions. A left footed winger who isn’t afraid to come inside, in order to jink back out shows glimmers of class. Also part of a rapid front line.
Rudi McKinnon (Tuffley Rovers U18s) – McKinnon is very good. Genuinely you have to give kudos to Michael Palmer for brining him to Glevum Park. He shows quick feet and natural ability in front of goal, whilst clearly having the desire to win. Another Hartpury student being exposed to great facilities and opportunities.
Fin Rees (Bishops Cleeve U18s) – I will be honest when I say Rees is probably the player I know least about on the list but I was messaged about him earlier in the season and was one I have kept my eye on since. Captained the Young Mitres and was top scorer when the season was suspended.
Ross Johnstone (Gloucester City U18s) – Gloucester City hold Johnstone in the highest regard and it is easy to see why. During the 2018/19 season we saw him and Lewis Bainbridge tear a quality Slimbridge side apart and since then I have kept an eye out for him. Hartpury student and plays for the English Schools Football Association’s (ESFA) Under-18s side. Quality in the making.
Jayson Watkins (Tuffley Rovers U18s) – Anyone with the Development training set up at Tuffley will tell you how good this young man is and the scariest part about it for me is, I still don’t truly believe I have seen him at his best yet…but from what I have seen he has all the tools to make his mark for Tuffley.
Liam Harper (Slimbridge U18s) – Harper is one of the players on the list who is already having a great impact within the men’s game. He was given the armband by Adam Coyle for the Young Swans because he is a reliable performer. He has also impressed for Frampton United in a season where they were fighting for the title.
Kieren James (Cinderford Town U18s) – During the season Paul Michael had to include a number of 16-18 year olds in his squads to cover for injuries and suspension and James is one who deservedly got the call up. They have a great crop coming through in the Forest and James is one of the stand outs.
Joey Haswell (Gloucester City U18s) – Haswell is another player who has impressed at both U18s level and at men’s level this season. When he signed for Longlevens I didn’t expect to see him mature so quickly and to produce the quality he has. Honestly, he is at the right club at the right time to really go on and make a name for himself.
Josh Bird (Tuffley Rovers U18s) – Bird is similar to Watkins in that I honestly don’t believe I have seen him at his very best yet, but from what he has displayed so far is impressive. He trialed and got into the U18s GFA Representative side last season and is at a good place to have a platform to kick on.
Ethan Dunbar (Slimbridge U18s) – Dunbar is probably the one on this list who was closest to being nominated for an End of Season Award. In fact if we had more than three nominees he would have been on the shortlist. Fast as lightning and is as deadly a finisher as I’ve seen in Gloucestershire football. Like Harper is doing well at Frampton United and they will benefit from his progression.
And there we go. Gloucestershire is a county thriving from a competitive U18s scene and it can only get better as more teams register U18s squads. The list will be worth checking back on in 12 months time!