Swansea City’s success this season has been heavily reliant on their strength in depth. But once their older generation move on, who will Swans fans have to look forward to?
Past Swansea managers employed tactics of buying young and cheap, and developing players to reach the highest level. Notable examples include Ashley Williams and Leon Britton, who now feature consistently for the Swans, and also the likes of Scott Sinclair. Bought for minimal fee from Chelsea, the wide man became a huge success at the Liberty Stadium before making a multi-million pound move to Manchester City last summer.
But now the Swans have changed their transfer policy, targeting experience and top flight quality, so is there still hope for the future? The first player who comes to mind, is 19-year-old left-back, Ben Davies. Davies was part of Swansea’s FAW Youth Cup winning side in 2010, and has since come on leaps and bounds.
As promising young Welshman, Neil Taylor was forced out through injury at the beginning of the season, the player who barely anyone had heard of stepped up. Davies, the only other recognised left-back at the time, has since gone on to produce a string of strong performances, earning him a call up to the Wales squad. He scored his first career goal last month, and will surely be looking to add to that tally in months to come.
Nobody thought Davies would fill Taylor’s place this season, but in fact, I believe the 23-year-old will have some stiff competition for his first team place on his return this spring. The Swans have a number of other youngsters ready to break into the defensive third of the first team.
The likes of Curtis Obeng and Welshman Jazz Richards, and also France Under-21 captain, Darnell Situ are all playing well under Kristian O’Leary in the Swans’ development squad.
But a player who has slipped under the radar slightly, is Gwoin Edwards.
The 19-year-old winger, who has come through the Swans’ academy system, produced consistent performances for the Under-21s, earning him a loan move to St Johnstone last month. He will be hoping for a place in the first eleven at Swansea to open up within the next few seasons, after he was tipped to become the next best Welsh winger last
Another player who has been predicted to have a great career ahead of him, is Northern Irishman Rory Donnelly. Brought in by Brendan Rodgers in 2012, he is a ‘classic’ number nine player. Latching onto scrappy balls when he can, whilst using his pace and strength to run in behind defenders.
The 20-year-old, who is also clinical in the air, scored 20 goals in 49 games for his hometown club Cliftonville, where he earned the nickname “Wee Steeky Rory”.
Although he has earned multiple call-ups to the Northern Irish international squad he is yet to receive a cap. Hopefully, the likes of Ben Davies, Gwion Edwards and Rory Donnelly will ensure that Swansea City can continue to be a successful side in the years to come.
By Owen Midha